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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, September 3, 2012

The World of Historical Fiction: Not What I Expected-Part 1

Source: Ithacalibrary.com
This weekend I came across two great articles/posts that discuss today's historical fiction. One by Tricia Goyer discussed how much research goes into historical fiction. The other from Top Hat Books discusses historical literary fiction vs. historical series and how prevalent they are today. Both are excellent articles.

As my book, Citadels of Fire, the first in the Kremlins trilogy is a historical fiction, I try to keep up on these things. :D

Even when my publisher, the fabulous Jolly Fish Press, accepted Citadels of Fire, they told me that it wasn't particularly common to have historical stories serialized, and could I possibly make it into a stand-alone? I explained a bit nervously that the next two books in the trilogy, while needing some work, were more-or-less written. My wonderful editor-in-chief, Chris Loke, immediately assured me that they'd make it work. *sags in relief*

While it's true that most historical fiction novels are stand-alones, I actually grew up with historical sagas. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and my faith puts a lot of emphasis on geneology, church history, and the bible. (Let's face it: the bible is just one great big historical epic, right?)

Because of this, a lot of our books, especially our fiction, consist of historical epics. Much of it is not mainstream, though. It deals with our church's history, or important people in history who were members of our faith. See The Work and the Glory, The Promised Land, Children of the Promise, and Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, to name a few.

Yet, I think this is why I tend to write epics--

(If you don't know this about me yet, take note: I'm very wordy. I did manage to write one stand-alone novel, a crime drama, but that's all. Everything else I've written has had multiple volumes. It's just how I think. A few months past I set out to write a short story of 5,000 words or less. The first draft was over 8,000 words long! I finally weedled it down to 4,997 words, but it was painful!)

--instead of stand-alones. My entire life I've been taught about the on-going-ness (no it's not a word but move along, okay?) of history, so that's how I write.

A woman at work asked me how I could write a series. She didn't understand how I could think ahead and plan to do that. I told her that, in truth, it's hard work. It's very common for authors to write as they go and it can be obvious in some cases by the final volume that something changed half-way through the series that the author hadn't planned for. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it happens. Yet, I tend to think in even more epic terms than others. I like to see how things fit together (or fall apart) over years, decades, even centuries, rather than just hours or days. What does that make me? A writer of historical epics? Possibly, A little strange? Probably. Long-winded? Definitely!

Either way, my first historical publication will be a trilogy about the life of a maid in the Kremlin palace during the middle ages in Russia, while the one-and-only Ivan the Terrible sat upon the throne. It will span most of the character's lifetimes, though the bulk of the story happens when they are in their primes.

I loved writing this story! It's epic and tragic and historical and everything I love about historical fiction. It's got elements of mystery and romance and battle and tragedy. What else can you ask for?

One of the articles mentioned above talks about research, while the other discusses literary historical fiction. I may turn this into a series over the next two days so I can put down my own thoughts on these two issues. If you have the time, click on the article links in my first paragraph and glance through them so you'll have a frame of reference for my posts! :D

So how about you? Do you prefer your historical fiction in sagas or stand-alone novels?

Random Movie Quotes (RMQ)

Don't know what this is? Click here.

So Friday's RMQ was: "I have seen the face of war before,sir, but I've never seen war made upon women and children...and almost as cruel as your indifference..."

No one guessed this one. Michelle from Sweet Book Reviews gave a good guess of War Horse. It's a good guess because both films are period pieces set against the backdrop of an American war. Unfortunately, War Horse centers around the wrong war.

This came from the immortal film, The Last of the Mohicans. If you're a fan of ridiculously romantic historical sagas, you HAVE to see this film. I've heard people describe this as the movie of their lives! (Really not exaggerating.)

Anyway, the character is Cora Monroe, played by Madelaine Stowe (you might have seen her more recently in Revenge--a completely different character!) talking to Hawkeye about something she doesn't fully understand. Fabulous scene!

Now for today's RMQ: 

"I don't know why I tell you now, but I see her strength in you. (*whispers*) One day, you will be a queen. And you must open your eyes..."

Any guesses? One point for the film, one for the actor, one for character. I'll give you a hint: this was a very well-known movie. Even won an academy award. Good luck! :D


  1. i heart your blog! I'm a new GFC follower :)

    1. Aw shucks! Thanks so much! I appreciate that! :D

  2. This is a good post. I can't wait to see your book on the shelves.

    1. Thanks Chris! I'll be continuing it for the next two days! :D

  3. i think that the quote is Braveheart...and Mel Gibson, but not sure...its been a while since i've seen it

    1. ETA and if its Mel Gibson, then William Wallace is the character

    2. Correct! You're today's RMQ winner! Good for you! 3 Points! Thanks for guessing! :D