Popular Posts from 2015

2015 was a banner year for articles on historical fiction that struck a chord with followers of A Writer of History. I hope you enjoy reading or rereading some of these.

In 2015 Inside Historical Fiction became a new focus for A Writer of History. With this topic I and others looked under the covers of historical fiction to illuminate those attributes that make it different from contemporary fiction. If you’d like to explore this topic, use the search term ‘inside historical fiction’.

Author T.K. Thorne offered an analogy between painting and writing with some excellent words of advice that appealed to many readers.

7 Elements of Historical Fiction is a perennial favourite. It explores how character, dialogue, setting, theme, plot, conflict, and world building – the basic elements of any story – are challenged for historical fiction.

During 2015, I also explored social reading beginning with 10 thoughts on the subject. Social reading refers to the conversations readers have with one another, with writers and with bloggers in the changing dynamic of reading.

Are you an author? If so, have you considered the concept of market segments for your novels? This post illustrates the concept based on market segments I created for one of my novels.

Beyond entertainment, what is the purpose of historical fiction?

I asked readers whether they prefer their historical fiction centred on famous figures or fictional characters? Two subsequent articles explore this topic further: Historical fiction Without the Famous and Historical Fiction Without the Famous part 2.

In 2015, I conducted my third reader survey. The results were a popular read.

In 2015, I asked readers to list their favourite historical fiction titles for the first time. Lots of great novels in this list.

Noah Lukeman is the author of The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. Noah knows a thing of two about finding top-notch manuscripts to represent. And he presents his advice simply and succinctly, using lots of examples to illustrate his points.

Favourite historical fiction authors from three different surveys are presented in this post.

Two articles on historical research written by Leah Klocek attracted a lot of interest from authors .. part one and part two

Happy reading. I hope you find many of these interesting.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY

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.

 

The Splendor Before the Dark by Margaret George

Margaret George is a superb writer of historical fiction. Her novels are deep character studies, and she has tackled people from Elizabeth I to Mary of Magdalene. I had the pleasure of an early copy of her second and concluding novel about Emperor Nero.

Margaret introduces Nero and the novel:

The Splendor Before the Dark closes the life story of Nero, one of the most remarkable emperors Rome ever saw.  The era was indeed one of splendor, as well as passions, conspiracies, and outsized characters, none more so than the emperor Nero himself.   He was a complicated person, though, with many contradictory traits, and strangely modern in that he put self-fulfillment as his highest value.  In that way, I think readers of today will find him fascinating, and familiar.

My Review: Following The Confessions of Young Nero, Margaret George concludes her tale of Emperor Nero with an insightful and passionate novel of the final four years of Nero’s life. On every dimension – superb writing, feeling immersed in time and place, characters both heroic and human, authenticity, and compelling plot – The Splendor Before the Dark is a winner.

Politics and power. Throughout the novel, these two are tangled in an intricate dance where one false step can lead to tragic consequences. Despite the warnings of those who know him best, Nero is unaware of, or willfully blind to, the false steps he takes. The people of Rome are fickle. Although Nero understands that “The crowd. They can turn to beasts in an instant,” he remains convinced of his people’s love far beyond the time when popular opinion begins to shift. And with his far-flung empire at relative peace, Nero fails to appreciate the fissures that threaten his leadership and Rome’s stature: religious unrest; rebellious territories; ambitious commanders; betrayals; and resentment of the costly and extravagant rebuilding of Rome.

Underlying all this complexity—and making crucial decisions more difficult—are Nero’s conflicting personas: the dutiful emperor, the idealistic artist, and the man who allows his dark side to take over. As the novel gathers momentum and urgency, I found myself wanting to whisper in Nero’s ear, to warn him before he stumbled into further danger; before it was too late.

Margaret George tells the story through three voices: the voice of Nero; that of Acte, a woman he has always loved; and that of Locusta, a woman who specializes in herbal medicine and poisons. Through Acte we see the young Nero and his idealist and artistic side, while through Locusta we see Nero’s dark side. The author’s research and interpretation of Nero has such depth that as the novel progressed, I felt I understood Nero on an intimate level.

Here’s Locusta reflecting on Nero:

“If, all those years ago when the prospect of being emperor was a poison mushroom away, did he have any comprehension of what was waiting on the other side? … Now he had entered fully into another kind of bondage, with no deliverance as long as he lived. Emperors did not retire into private life, like philosophers. There was only one retirement for an emperor—the grave. And if he is lucky, a natural descent into it at an advanced age.”

Near the end of the novel, Nero broods on what has happened:

“There is none so blind as he who will not see.”

The Splendor Before the Dark is historical fiction at its most powerful. Highly recommended.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

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.

What do these authors have in common?

What do these authors have in common?

Author-List-Sept-2016

They’ve all been on A Writer of History!! Some for interviews, others for guest posts. Some have written books on the craft of historical fiction, others have offered insights into their own writing and research processes. Some are authors of long standing, others are debut authors. They write stories from across the ages and from many different corners of the world. 115 authors by my count!

Collectively, all have contributed to furthering the understanding of historical fiction as an important and thriving genre and I’m grateful to each and every one of them.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING 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, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. 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.