What do you like about Historical Fiction?

Historical fiction is one of the most popular forms of fiction being written today–along with young adult, zombies, romance novels, and sci-fi.

I am interested in learning why people like historical fiction books. I have a few theories, but I would like to know what others think.

I enjoyed writing the Finding Billy Battles trilogy that begins in the Old West of Kansas, moves to the colonial Far East in the late 19th Century, and then to early 20th Century Mexico during its revolution and finally, back to the United States.

As a reader (or writer) what is it that draws you to this kind of fiction?

I take pleasure in doing the research necessary to create an accurate portrayal of the people, places, and events of other eras, such as the 19th Century. I especially like “slowing” down the pace of life.

What I find appealing about the past is that people were not overwhelmed and seduced by the high-tech gadgets and social media that dominate our waking moments today—smart phones, I-pads, texting, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

BSM (Before Social Media) you had time to THINK rather than merely react. The art of conversation was alive and well—not the 140-character verbal blitzes or the shorthand texts that pass for it today.

When I worked as a foreign correspondent, I can recall telling my office (via telex) when I was covering Vietnam, Cambodia, El Salvador, etc. in the 70s & 80s that I would be out of touch for several days. Then I would go to some remote area and spend time talking with people, analyzing what I was hearing, and what I was seeing. Then I would return to write a story that wasn’t filled with “instant wisdom” as we so often see today from uninformed reporters who “parachute” in to cover a story.

Writing about the 19th Century, as I did in my trilogy, allowed me to slow the pace down, provide historical context, and give my characters time to think.

Today, we are all in such a hurry to do things, to pack in as much as we can in a single day. When I think about my characters in Finding Billy Battles, I envy the fact that they were not sped up by “galloping technology” as we are so often today.

What do you think? Do you like reading books where the pace of life is slower, where technology is not sovereign, where civility and propriety (usually) reigned?

Let me know what you think. I would like to take those thoughts and comments and use them in another post on this topic.


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