I think the title of this post says it all, but you know I'm going to expound on another of my pet peeves, don't you? Of course you do!
I've read historical fiction and historical romance for as long as I can remember. My memory has always been questionable, and now that I've turned forty, (or is it having a child?), whatever memory I had is definitely gone but I think the first historical I ever read was in middle school. I can't recall the title, (my lamentable memory, don't you know.), but I know that it was about William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders. That book started my love affair with all things English. I love historicals set in England and my favorite time period is Regency. There isn't a Georgette Heyer I haven't read and my goal is to own them all!
But, though I love English historicals, I am always excited to see an historical set in an unusual time period, make it to publication.
It irritates me to read articles by New York publishing people that say non-English historicals don't sell so it must mean the public doesn't want to read them. I think it is more likely that readers can't find anything but English/Scots historicals so that is what they read by default.
The market is overrun with regency and celtic romances. What about Italy? Are you telling me an author can't find a great story from the history of the Roman Emporers? Not enough conflict surrounding Nero or Caligula? Please.
How about China? My daughter and I went to the High Museum in Atlanta a few years ago and toured the Terracotta Warriors exhibit. Oh. My. God. That was one of the highlights of my life. Seriously. The warriors are amazing. The detail is incredible. Did you know that each face is different? There were something like ten thousand warriors and associated statues unearthed and the facial expressions, hair, clothing-- none are exactly alike. They were made by hand!! Amazing.
Did you also know that the first Emporer wanted to live forever? He had people search all over China for the elixir of life. He drank tonics that contained mercury and jade; needless to say he died young! He also had a temple built filled with things for his enjoyment in the afterlife, much like the Egyptian pharoahs--similarities in religion with no mass communication; that's fascinating all by itself. But, I'm going off on one of my tangents :), I really do love history and I'll talk about it for hours if no one hollers for me to shut up!
I refuse to believe I'm the only reader on this planet that feels this way about the history and culture of other countries. So why are non-British Isles historicals so hard to get published? Probably because publishing is a business and they want to make a profit; it's easier and safer to just go with the sure thing.
If you look for historicals on Amazon, Smashwords, etc. you'll find an amazing array of unusual setting/time period historicals; Thank God for the internet and small print presses. These small houses are willing to take the risk and many authors are even taking advantage of Amazon, et al. and going the self published route. Yay! More great books for all of us historical fiction readers!
When I joined a critique group last year, I met an author with a great series of time travel historicals set during the Civil War. Now, that's not such an unusual time period but the premise is. The Civil War Brides series by Tracey Jane Jackson follows the lives of a group of friends as one by one they get transported back in time to 1860's Pennsylvania. Each book chronicles the love story of one of the friends and continues to show the reasons why this particular group has been sent back.
I'm not going to say too much about these books because I'll give the secrets away. They are really good books though, the circumstances surrounding the time travel and other aspects about why they are time traveling are almost sci/fi but the main story is one of love and history. The history and culture of the time is woven seamlessly through the stories. Finish one of the books and see if you don't blink, surprised that you aren't dressed in a hoop skirt and taking tea in the parlor!
Tracey will be stopping by tomorrow and she is going to tell us how she started her writing journey and why she decided to go the self-publishing route. She also has a contest ... :)
I am currently reading the first book in another historical series. Nicole Hadaway's, Release, is set in Poland during World War II. I love the 1940's, it was a romantic time, movie stars were glamourous, heck, even everyday women on the street were glamourous with their line down the back stockings, hats, and gloves. I grew up watching old movies and still love them so I had to pick up Nicole's book. I'm so glad I did! Release would not be considered your typical historical, regardless of its setting. Why? Because the main character is a vampire and she has a twin brother. She also has friends; demon and werewolf friends.
At first glance, you might think Release is just another paranormal. You'd be so very wrong! There is an elegance to Nicole's writing: it reminds me of Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayres. The book is told in multiple points of view, which usually bothers me but Nicole handles it so effortlessly and with such grace ... nothing is intrusive with this book. The story sucks you in and you have to keep reading; even when your eyes are crossing from lack of sleep!
I'm enjoying Release. It's unique, in characters, setting, and writing style. What I particularly like is the way Nicole shows the inner torment of the characters. They stuggle with their natures even while they embrace them. They also assist the Polish resistance in their fight against the Nazi SS. I told you this was an entirely different kind of book!
Nicole will be here on Friday and I hope you'll stop in. She has an incredible depth of knowledge on ancient myths and various religions and she uses it in her books, to great advantage. I have read several of her blog posts at other authors' sites and she never fails to enthrall me; she is a fascinating person and her personality shines through in her writing. I guess you'd say that's her 'voice' :). Whatever you want to call it, Release is a great read. It is something out of the ordinary and well worth reading.
I'm curious, (yes, you know I have a problem with that!), do you like historical fiction? What time period would you like to see offered? What is it about your non-traditional setting preference that draws you?
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