The Pitfalls of Historical Fiction by Marci Jefferson (Plus a giveaway!)

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 in Guest Post, Historical Fiction, Writing | 2 comments

The Pitfalls of Historical Fiction by Marci Jefferson (Plus a giveaway!)

It’s always exciting to me when we get an author to represent something previously undiscussed on Pen and Muse.

Today, Marci Jefferson, author of GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN is dropping in to talk about:

historical fiction. 

Confession? (This is how you know it’s Muse KJ, by the way. I confess way too much to y’all.) I love historical fiction. I even talked to Big Five editor about a series idea I had planned. She loved it…. And then I had to start researching.

And then I said “Yeah, I’m going back to young adult for now.” Maybe I’ll make it to that series someday – for now I’ll stick to reading it, and soaking in advice from historical fiction authors like Marci.

Thanks Marci for stopping by today!

writing blogs, blogs for writers, blogs for authorsHistorical Fiction is a fantastic genre where history can be told in fictional narrative. I’ve been researching and writing historical fiction for several years, and I have a grand total of one completed novel to my name. That novel is GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN, A NOVEL OF FRANCES STUART. It was a labor of love. The truth is, I absolutely love and adore history. I love the decadence and tragedy of the Stuart Royals, and can’t get enough of the Baroque royal courts. So during those many, many years of researching and writing, I spent rather a lot of time actually *researching.*

Researching was a pitfall for me. I call it researchitis. As a nurse, I don’t have a background in historical studies. So I read everything about the seventeenth century that I could get my hands on, from contemporary diaries, architectural histories, to biographies. Then I looked up all the sources cited in the biographies and tried to get my hands on those! Every little random bit of information just fascinated me, such as the history of the houses on London bridge, and how queens took a bath at Whitehall Palace, and especially the luxurious court fashions. I hope that some of this research enriches my novel, and hope it does not bog it down.

But my research certainly did bog down my writing life. There were days and weeks at a time that I didn’t write at all because of research. And as every writer knows (or should know), you have to exercise the writing muscle every single day to hone your skill.

So my advice to anyone interested in writing historical fiction is to spend at least as much time focused on the work of crafting fiction as you do the history itself.

I’d love to hear from Pen and Muse readers – do any of you get caught up in research as you craft fiction?

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GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN will be released by St. Martin’s press in February, but you can win one of fifty free copies on this Goodreads giveaway!

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Girl On The Golden Coin

Girl on the Golden Coin, a historical fiction novel by Marci Jefferson

Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches the Sun King’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. King Louis XIV turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.

Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.

On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom.



About Marci Jefferson


Years after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, immersing herself in a Quality Assurance nursing career, and then having children, Marci realized she’d neglected her passion for history and writing. She began traveling, writing along the way, delving into various bits of history that caught her fancy. The plot for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN evolved slowly after a trip to London, where she first learned about the Stuart royals. Marci is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, making hair-bows for their daughter, trying not to step on their son’s Legos, and teaching a tiny Pacific Parrotlet to talk.

Find Marci Jefferson on her website at or on Twitter @MarciJefferson



  1. It’s an honor to be the first author invited to talk historical fiction on Pen and Muse! Thanks so much for having me…this is such a beautiful and, more importantly, informative site!

    • We’re so glad to have you Marci – and to get your insights on historical fiction!

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