Making Up History by Lynn Emery

Lynn EmeryI love history, real and made up. By made up I mean the author creates a rich back-story that reaches back years, even generations, to support the plot and character development. The events, settings or characters may or may not be real, but mostly you know that the author just made it up. There was no such war, town or event. But who cares when you’re deep into a page-turner? I don’t for sure.

The thing about history that hooked me at a young age is how it relates to the present. Suddenly the questions “How?” and “Why?” are answered, just from stumbling on a dusty old book or a pack of ancient letters. When you learn secrets like your Great Aunt Lucy had a scandalous affair or your grandfather had a brush with death at the hands of a lynch mob, you begin to understand things about your family.

As an author I have way too much fun creating history. I have to control myself or I’ll end up not writing the book. Although doing research is a chore for me, I’ll happily gather enough background to create a whole history of my own, sprinkling in just enough of the real to make the made up history even better.

For example, in Tell Me Something Good Lyrissa Rideau is looking for a valuable nineteenth century painting by her artist ancestor. Now this man never existed, but I did research on African-American artists in New Orleans during the time period. In that way I created what he would use as subjects for his art, what kind of paint he’d use and where he’d have shown his work. I mentioned a few real artists and art techniques prevalent at the time. But the history about Lyrissa’s family, and the artist himself? Totally made up. Imagine my delight when readers asked where they could find those paintings. Mission accomplished. I created a world that was believable. I’ve done this in just about all of my books, but another good example is my novel A Time To Love. I took oral family history heard during my childhood and went to town creating the secrets Neva uncovers about her fictional family.

In my new novel Only By Moonlight I went even further. I created a family tree that spans 200 years for psychic LaShaun Rousselle, the main character of my paranormal mystery series. I also invented a newspaper article from 1836 that relates to the plot. What fun I had! To see these “historical” documents go to

Naturally all of this hit me because once again we’re in Black History Month. I’ve made it my mission to spread the word that our history is way too big to be contained in only 28 days! I celebrate real history and the larger than life people who made history year round. I’ll keep making up history for my characters, but it will always be inspired by real history. After all, the true, whole story of us in America and the world is too page-turner good to do anything else.

Lynn Emery

Read more about my three LaShaun Rousselle paranormal mysteries and other novels at
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