What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? Plenty I’ve now come to realise. We are now in the final month before my novel is published. It was to be called ‘Tarureka’ – Maori for sweet grass or meadow herbs – but now all of that has changed. Why? Because some of my New Zealand relatives felt it deviated too much from the true history of their and my forebears.

This can be a real stumbling block for the historical novelist even if, like Phillipa Gregory, when challenged about the veracity of her historical facts, declared ‘I’m writing a story, not a history’.

Of course, this is not to argue that the historical novelist can ignore history and put in facts that are clearly out of the time, no, the historical novelist must always write his/her story based on history, but based is the operative word. To try and get the facts correct but not write a  true history. Whoever heard of a real person’s story being made up of page-turning facts? Occasionally but rarely.

The other problem for the historical novelist, no, for any novelist, is that the characters have to necessarily be based on real people that the novelist knows, knows about or has met. What else can any of us do but write from what we know even if our characters are made up of composite people? The writer can only cover himself/herself by putting a disclaimer at the start of the book, something like – ‘this story is entirely fictional. Any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental’.

So now ‘Tarureka’ has become the fictional place of WAIREKA which is Maori for ‘sweet waters’ given that the mythical river WAIHAHA or ‘noisy river’ has a tributary flowing through the land which is near the fictional town of Frampton.

Based on history indeed but also a story. Will that appease those who have been upset by the original tale? Maybe. But at the end of the day, a writer has to write a story they can believe in themselves. 

I would particularly like to thank my publisher for their support at what has been for me a rather difficult time. Thank you www.emeraldhouse.com and I look forward to publishing my new book, WAIREKA very soon.

About journojohnson

I qualified as a journalist in 2002 and after a period working as a freelance for Gloucester Media writing advertorials, interviews, articles and press releases I have gone on to write for lots of magazines and newspapers, both local and national. I write regularly for the Writers and Readers magazine but have also written for CPO's Inspire, the New Writer, Classic Ford, and Take a Break's My Favourite Recipes among many others. I published my first full-length historical novel. Waireka in 2018 and my romantic novella, Alpha Male in 2016. Both can be found on Amazon. Please follow the links on my book page.
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