author Brendan Hodge, author Nicole Evelina, author Olga Walker, author Tam May, differentiating historical and contemporary fiction, historical fiction genre, magical ingredients of historical fiction, reader Ellie Stevenson, Sorayabxl, what makes historical fiction tick
Further to last week’s post on the ‘magic ingredients” of historical fiction, let’s hear from a few more write-in comments. Several of these are from readers who put their thoughts in an email.
Olga Walker: “I think they [the best historical fiction authors] weave the ‘facts of the time’ in with the story so that it is a wonderfully merged creation and you are not aware of when this is happening.”
Nicole Evelina: “You have to make the reader feel like the slang is on the tip of their tongue, too, the stench of the streets is something they can actually smell, and the political or cultural views are their own. You have to take them back in time in as many ways as possible.”
Sorayabxl: “reading a historical novel adds the extra satisfaction of quenching your thirst of knowledge and curiosity for a certain time period. When I pick a historical novel, I want to enjoy myself and live another life but I also want to find out at the same time “How was it really like to live back then?”
Ellie Stevenson: “Evoke a sense of place and time that’s so authentic you can almost touch it and smell it.”
Tam May: I try to use a variety of resources, including resources published at the time (like newspapers, conduct books, pictures, etc.) and those that are analyzing what happened in the past. I think having both sources that were “in the moment” as well as those that have a perspective on the past give a good variety of sources.
Brendan Hodge: I like to read novels set in other times and places (whether conscious “historicals” or novels actually written near the time and place they portray) because they allow you to see how the universal aspects of the human experience play out in a very different setting.
Historical fiction is certainly a powerful genre.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.