Monday, July 12, 2010

The Historical Novel



So for those of you who haven’t guessed, historical fiction is my genre. There’s an awful lot to choose from out there in terms of genres and I personally enjoy reading and writing in many of them. Unfortunately, with the way marketing goes in the book world a writer has to make a choice (at least when they start out) regarding which particular genre they will pursue. Now you can have fun with sci-fi, fantasy, literary fiction and many more, but the reason I prefer historical so much largely reflects my own background and interests in the past and my belief that we often forget in our everyday lives the realities of life in the daily rat-race of the so-called “real world.”

I’ll give you some examples of what I mean. Ever have a killer test or final you dread the next day? Heck, I still have dreams about tests and I haven’t been in school for several years now. Or how about your job? Dying to get that promotion, can’t handle the daily grind of monotony, or worse you’ve got an evil boss or snippy customers/coworkers? Sounds real enough, right? Well, that’s where I think our perspectives may be somewhat off. When I have a tough day at work, I think to myself well at least no one shot at me today. I didn’t have to scavenge for my food. I’m not in a war. I’m not a farmer who just lost his crop. Or a little child that just lost their mother. These things are real and they bring out real human emotions and dramas in a way that our success-driven, ego-centric culture today often ignores. That’s why I turn to historical fiction.

In my civil war novel, The Long Defeat, I follow soldiers from both sides of the conflict who must put their lives on hold, some forever, in the hope that they might see a better day. I’m also currently toying with another story I’ve started writing about the colonial frontier in backwoods Virginia, chronicling the trials and tribulations of a family of farm children trying to survive with only the barest necessities. These are the types of things I consider real, and these are the types of things that interest me. I, of course, not only love to write historical fiction, I love to read it. And I know many of you out there reading this blog also engage in some really fantastic historical writing, so I’d be curious to hear your thoughts as well. What inspires you with regards to the genre of historical fiction?