About Me

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Surrey, B.C., Canada
I have always been an avid reader and history has always been a passion of mine. I am a huge historical fiction fan, who also enjoys reading gothic tales with chills and thrills, mystery and suspense and who loves stepping back in time..... A quote I once read stated: I don't live in the past..the past lives in me!.. Perhaps that's why I am a Family History/Genealogy Addict too!

Monday, 1 April 2013

What I believe Historical Fiction should be...

Historical books whether fiction or non-fiction, takes the reader into the past and introduce them to a period of time that they could not have experienced first-hand. 

Historical Fiction-
1) blends fictional characters and stories with historical settings and general facts illustrating how people lived during these times.
2)blends real people from the past in historical based settings with fictional characters in the story or fictional conversations and possibly another story line .   

Sometimes the timeframe has been twicked by the author in order to make the story flow more interestingly,  If this has happened, the author should indicate that some liberty had been taken with the facts and an explanation why, in the authors notes at the end of the book.

Also, I believe there are sub-genre's (or groups) under the HF genre itself. These would be such classifications as:
Historical Thrillers, Historical Mysteries, Historical Romance, Historical Fantasies (such as The Mists of Avalon..) or Gothic Historical Fiction ( Historical  fiction with a prevailing atmosphere of mystery and terror) and so on.  Whatever the story, it should always make the reader believe the novel is a plausible explanation of the past. 

All in all, the Historical Fiction, must be entertaining and enjoyable to read.  Not just a story full of historical facts.  Putting too many historical facts in a novel could bore the reader and stop them from finishing what could have been a great story.  As a reader of historical fiction, I do not want to read for example,  how bricks are made, how cloth is woven, how soap is made, long winded descriptions of the setting each tree, each rock... and each item of clothing a character is wearing.  I am more interested in the plot and what is happening with the protagonist(s).

Do you agree or disagree?  I would love to hear others opinion on the subject.


  1. i agree with the analysis. My big historical novels are catching on, and yes, the one criticism voiced by reviewers and friends who had read the books in to tone down the history. I did that in my third The Midwife's Secret, and it is too new to predict is less history and fewer pages helps sales.
    And it so important and a sign of a writer's integrity to explain deviations from history in the end notes. Your explanation is succinct and your advice is golden!

  2. Thank you Linda, that means a lot to me!

  3. Hi, I was very happy to come across your site. While I agree to an extent with your feelings as a reader on including long-winded descriptions of soap making, etc., as a writer, those are exactly the types of detail that help show aspects of my characters. While I would never go into a blow-by-blow description of the process in a narraterly voice, my characters' relationship to the heat, smell and hard work go a long way toward getting, not only a feel for who is doing the work, but shows people living in and interacting with the environment of another time. My hope is that by including details of the period, the reader gets to experience that world for a while as well :-)

  4. Hi Kathy, welcome to my Blog!

    I do agree with you that historical details help to transport the reader to the past. There is nothing wrong with historical details. What I am referring to, are the writers who loose track of the plot and the entertainment value of Historical fiction in order to fill the story with "unnecessary" filler, or "too" much description.
    The writers first obligation to the reader is to tell a good story and this is also true with Historical Fiction writers. While historical detail is important, it must not take away from the entertainment factor of the story.

  5. We are of like mind on this, especially where the reader is concerned. Too much of anything is too much. That's where an editor is vital in today's publishing world. I for one know that when I come across a researching gem, I want to incorporate it into the story. But never as a history lesson posing as part of a novel :-)