Popular Posts from 2013

Last week, I listed popular posts from 2012 as a way of sharing past writing with new readers and of curating a list for future reference. Today, I’m featuring a few of the most popular posts from 2013.

Writing Historical Fiction – Greatness and Great Times … in which I explored a perspective shared by Hilary Mantel who doesn’t “believe in inventing greatness where none exists” and “feels she can write about greatness only in historical moments that have already proved ripe for its flourishing. [Mantel] believes that there are no great characters without a great time; ordinary times breed ordinary people”. The post looks at favourite historical fiction authors and the times (as of 2013) they’ve written about.

Historical Fiction Preferences – Publishers versus Readers … in this post, I had a look at the time periods publishers were publishing in 2013 compared to what participants of the 2012 reader survey listed as their favourite time periods to read. Conclusion? Readers and publishers seemed to be at odds. I wonder if that’s still the case today?

Favourite Historical Fiction … I listed a few of my favourites and invited others to add theirs. The result is an excellent list of favourite historical fiction. In 2015, I invited over 2000 participants to list their favourite historical fiction and published that list as well, in case you’re searching for something to read!

Historical Fiction Blog – Burton Book Review … an interview with Marie Burton who has been reviewing books – particularly historical fiction – for more than ten years. Marie’s blog – Burton Book Review – is still going strong.

What’s in a Nameotherwise known as how I chose my pen name, M.K. Tod 🙂 


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Authors Are Readers Too

Almost every piece of advice given to aspiring authors includes the suggestion to read as much as possible in order to examine and understand the techniques used by successful writers. It seems reasonable to ask what do authors read?

Over five hundred authors responded to the 2015 historical fiction reader survey: 77% female, 23% male, ranging in age from under twenty to over seventy with significant numbers from US, UK, Canada, Europe and Australia. 45% read more than thirty books a year. (Full survey report can be found here.)

Authors percent HFGiven the survey’s emphasis on historical fiction, it is not surprising to see 77% writing historical fiction covering time periods from pre-history to the first half of the twentieth century and a significant number reading historical fiction more than half the time (diagram is authors only). Based on write-in comments, many authors read to enhance their knowledge of a particular era and to improve their writing skills.

Sixty percent of these authors write about fictional characters within a backdrop of great historical events while less than 13% write about famous people. In contrast, while 85% of readers enjoy what writers prefer to write, 54% of readers want to read about famous figures (chart below shows readers only).

Readers characters and settings

Like general readers, authors choose historical fiction to bring the past to life and to understand how people lived in other times. When asked about their favourite time periods, these authors either choose from a wide range or read stories set in the 19th century and the 13th to 16th centuries (diagram shows authors only).

Authors preferred time periods to read

Like readers, authors who participated in the survey expressed a preference for stories featuring strong female characters or adventure (not surprising given the high proportion of women authors in the sample). However, unlike general readers, literary stories are also in the top three for authors. And interestingly, while more than half the readers expressed a strong preference for series with ongoing characters, less than 30% of authors agreed with them. (Chart is authors only.)

Authors fav story types

Asked what aspects make characters come alive in a historical context, authors look primarily for interesting and complex characters followed by behaviour that is realistic to the era and setting. Here’s a look at what authors appreciate in their favourite novels, which is likely what they try to write into their own novels.

Authors what makes characters come alive

In terms of social reading, more than thirty percent of authors use social media daily for reading purposes such as book discovery, book reviews, author interaction and book discussions. They place significant value on using social media to build new friendships with readers, tracking their books, connecting with other authors and discussing books with other readers.

As shown in the diagram below (authors only responding), over 60% of these authors agree that social media makes it easier to find books they like, gives them a voice concerning the books they enjoy, and enjoy the sense of community social media enables around reading.

Authors re social media

When I have a chance to analyze favourite authors and favourite books mentioned by authors, I’ll report back again. The full survey report can be found at this link.

Conclusions? I’m not sure, but would love to hear your thoughts.

FOR MORE ON INSIDE HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

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, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.