Scottish Outlaws, Deformed Vikings and Mystery Writing

When I came across the tale of Kinmont Willie, I knew he had to become a character in one of my books. Likewise Ivar the Boneless; who could resist a character with a name like that?

One of the reasons I love fiction is that it can be based on fact. History is fascinating, stuffed with characters who are unusual, colorful, and unbelievably evil. In novel writing you can take these footnotes of history and make them yours, creating a similar character to suit your plot requirements. If people say, "The outlaw's character is rather overblown," you can point to history and say, "Look at Kinmont Willie, the cattle-thieving reiver who had enough adventures in his long and nasty career to fill ten books."

And the Vikings! Readers had better be careful when disbelieving anything an author says about that unique type, because no matter how crazy it sounds, they probably did it.

Including almost-real characters in a book is fun, educational (for writer and reader), and makes a great story. The result of research on my writing is a blend of truth and tale that imparts, I hope, the flavor of the times without telling anyone's story but my own.

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