Nevertheless, not having previously delved into history any further back than my parents' childhoods, it is quite a different experience for me having to constantly check my facts (and, if it weren't for the internet, it would be far too arduous a task for one short story). For example, I knew not to have my nuns growing potatoes (although spuds were on my mind having just, belatedly, planted mine in the garden), but what other vegetables that we now take for granted would not be available in the Middle Ages?
Fact checking was fairly straightforward, however, but what about the language? My dictionary does give a rough date for when various words were introduced, but how authentic did I have to be? How authentic was I capable of being, without immersing myself in contemporaneous documents for a couple of months?
Where I stumbled most was with verbs as metaphor, or muscular verbs. I balked at using the word drive to indicate motivation or compulsion, because of its automatic association with motor transport for modern readers, even though I'm sure the word would have served equally well in the Middle Ages for driving cattle.
I don't think this issue is unique to historical fiction, more an extreme case of something we need to think about in all our writing. Have we got the facts right, or near enough that they won't derail the story, and is the language consistent with the character and setting? Or perhaps I'm just trying to cover myself for straying into territory where I have no right to be?
Interesting also how the blog leads me to the unexpected, not just the fun stuff I find on other people's, but what I choose to post. In other words, I hadn't expected to do this one, but the other two I mentioned last time (on identity as a writer and on blogging) need a little more polishing and there's bank holiday sunshine promised here in England, so I'll give them a bit more time to ripen.
Meanwhile, whether or not you have delved into historical fiction, as a reader or a writer, please share your views.