It’s time to get up on my hind legs and have a loud bleat about something that is beginning to get my goat. That ‘something’ seems to have become the new ‘must do’. What is it? The sneering and display of often pathetic pseudo-intellectual superiority that is constantly directed at Ricardian fiction. Snide remarks and exclusivity abound, and it was one such recent remark that has my goat venting its spleen.
Novelists are now sneered at as the new low life, and the sneering is done by folk who haven’t the wit or perseverance to write a book themselves. How easy it is take pot shots, employing a special school-playground spitefulness with which to punish presumptuous authors who lift Richard from history and write stories around him. Fiction about anything else can do as it damned well pleases. Time and again Ricardian authors are criticised and mocked, especially by people who also regard themselves as Ricardians. Why? Well, writing about Richard makes a novelist an immediate target. There isn’t an Eleventh Commandment in the Bible, but we all know it exists. Thou shalt not mess with Richard. No one should write imagined scenes with him because such scenes DID NOT HAPPEN. Well, that’s the point. It’s fiction! And he was not St Richard of Middleham. (Before fingers start jabbing and anonymous keyboards start rattling, I am not suggesting he was a fallen angel either!)
Some authors—a precious few—appear to be sacrosanct. How so? After all, their work is fiction too. With fictional characters to help the ‘real’ characters along, and conversations that are clearly reported by flies on walls. Ah, but that’s different. These authors write literary classics, or so someone has decided. And maybe these books are classics, but to praise only them implies that all other authors write tripe. Sorry, but fiction is fiction is fiction. The fact that it has been written in a haze of basking glory makes no difference. Lengthy homage or rattling yarn, it remains fiction, no matter what the genre within that sphere. And there are an awful lot of really good authors to entertain us all with their work. I am privileged to know a number of them, both new acquaintances and those made over the many years of my career. They are all dedicated, and all write from the heart. They do not deserve to have war declared on them by these invisible Hitlers.
Unfortunately, many so-called Ricardians have developed a mob mentality. Just witness some of the poisonous reviews at Amazon, and monstrous posts at Facebook. Trolls abound. When they are aiming at books, they spit vitriol about titles they have mostly not even read, and organise themselves into lynch mobs, following the book and the author, and being sure to make comments about comments, and so on. How dumb. Talk about the herd instinct. Baaaaaa! Fiction writers all do one thing, they tell stories. That is the whole point of it. But apparently they do it so well, the sheep out there in the wide world believe every word . . . or at least, are convinced other sheep will. No sheep shall be allowed to think and decide for itself is the Twelfth Commandment.
Ricardian trolls aren’t solely concerned with authors, they like to attack individuals of all sorts, for the hell of it, it seems. These trolls are particularly despicable…as well as faceless, nameless and conscienceless! Cowards by any other name, with wide yellow streaks down their spineless backs..
There’s a parallel universe out there, people! Why can’t these miserable excuses for human beings get a life of their own? And why do they do this at all? Because the author has created something of which they, the trolls and rabid, self-appointed posses, disapprove. The meaning of the word ‘fiction’ seems to have escaped them. They have become too thick-skinned and know-all to make the distinction between what is fact and what is imagined. It doesn’t even matter when an author makes it plain that the book’s plot is fictional. There is a mass abandonment of medications, it seems. Oh, and they think their opinions are more vital than anyone else’s. Never forget that. I wonder if some of them think they have a hotline to Richard? ‘Fraid so, folks. And they don’t even realise he’s never taken their calls.
Historians don’t escape either. They too are accused of . . . wait for it, writing fiction! Well, there’s a surprise. Even historians with a hitherto unblemished Ricardian record are now being sniped at for ‘invention’. But historians have a right to express an opinion, it’s what they do. They weigh up the evidence and decide what they think. Short of going back to Richard’s time and filming everything, thinking is all they can do. Their Holy Grail is to unearth actual proof of something. A long-lost document, a sculpture, a death mask, anything. How often does that happen? Once in a blue moon. And yes, OK, there are some historians who are in Cuckooland, but I’m not here to name names, only to generalise.
In my opinion, anyone who has the talent, dedication and love of a subject to sit down and write a book about it, deserves to be praised. They should not have the ignorant school bullies ganging up to harass and insult them. So, sucks to those bullies. And hooray for everyone who writes a book about Richard, fiction or non-fiction.
And hooray to anyone who stands up to trolls of all descriptions! May they triumph, and the scumbags go down the pan, to be lost in the sewers from whence they slithered.