Too Good to be True
I don’t know if you knew this or not, but historical novels require a ton of research. Sadly the majority of what is learned never winds up on the page. (Or at least it shouldn’t!) But some of it is so fascinating you really wish it could be used.
For example, did you know that Abraham Lincoln’s oldest son, nearly died by falling from a station platform in front of a train? He was saved by a man named Edward Booth. Yeah, does that last name look familiar? Edward Booth was the brother of John Wilkes Booth. The guy who just a few months later assassinated President Lincoln. Any writer who came up with that coincidence would be pilloried.
I myself was accused of pushing the bounds of credulity when I had my hero and heroine searching for a treasure. The search has led them to the Seychelles islands and in particular the main island of Mahe. There they meet a young man, who claims to be the Dauphin of France. I.e. the son of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette who was spirited away from prison by English spies.
A highly respected editor told me to rip out that part. Which I did because it was distracting to the story I was trying to tell. Ironically, it was the ‘truest’ part of the story. There was a man who settled on Mahe and started a spice plantation who was rumored to be the dauphin and indeed, he confided to his children that he was the missing French prince. Jardin du Roi is a beautiful plantation that can still be viewed today and you can hear his legend there. His claims were probably false, but he was a real character.
Oh, well. Just one more place where fiction gets away with a lot less than real life!
Have you got any fascinating but rejected research to share? Any real-life stories that are way too good to be plausible in fiction?