Yay! The Borgias are back!
Monday evenings have perked up no end, now that Cesare, Lucretia et al are back on Sky Atlantic. I love it. I love its energy. I love the acting (Jeremy Irons seems to have no vanity at all.) And I love the way Neil Jordan and his writers don't let facts get in the way of a good story (there's no historical evidence that the Borgias resorted to poisoning, murder and extortion to support the Papacy - or of incest either, for that matter. But who would want to see that on tv?)
'The Alchemist's Heir' is set in Florence some 40 years after the Borgias had Rome by the throat. There are similarities. One of my main characters is a ruthless Cardinal who uses his daughter - and everyone else - for his own nefarious ends. And, of course, there are poisonings, stabbings and seductions galore. It is Renaissance Italy, after all.
Telling any kind of historical tale inevitably raises the spectre of research. How much do I need to do to bring it alive? How much should I actually show in the writing? I'm having to feel my way by trial and error.
The novel features some real historical characters - Benevenuto Cellini, Cosimo di Medici and Michelangelo - so I can't ride completely roughshod over the known facts. And of course I've discovered lots of delicious little bits and pieces that I'd love to shoehorn in there (Renaissance ladies, for example, used to bleach their hair with nuns' urine. True. Ok... maybe not true, but it should be.)
There have been times when the whole story has got horribly bogged down by fact. The only solution was to sluice it out, see what was left sticking to the walls, and hope that was going to be enough to give the novel the right flavour (er... scent?)
So... I'll continue to tread that line between fact and fiction, taking lessons from Jordan the Maestro on a Monday night.
Bring it on, you bloody Borgias!