Historical fiction is one of the most popular forms of fiction being written today—along with young adult, zombie apocalypse, romance novels, and sci-fi.
I am specifically interested in learning why people like historical fiction books. I have a few theories, but I would like to know what others think.
As an author, I enjoyed writing the Finding Billy Battles trilogy—a historical fiction trilogy that begins in 19th Century Kansas and then moves (in Book 2) to the colonial Far East, then (in Book 3) to Mexico, and finally back to the United States in the mid-20th Century.
I am interested in knowing what it is that draws a reader (or writer) to this kind of fiction.
As for me, I enjoy 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 from the frenetic and hectic world of the 21st Century.
What I find appealing about eras “BSM” (Before Social Media), that didn’t have smartphones, Ipads, etc. is that you actually had time to THINK rather than simply react.
When I was a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, 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 and then return to write a story that wasn’t filled with “instant wisdom” as we so often see today with journalists who “parachute” in to a country to cover a story.
Writing about the 19th Century, as I did in my trilogy, allowed me to slow down the pace, 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 the Finding Billy Battles trilogy, I envy the fact that they were not sped up by “galloping technology” as we are so often today.
My characters actually had time to stop and smell the flowers, enjoy a brilliant sunset, “listen” to a forest, and take the time to read a good book.
So, I am asking you to tell ME what YOU think about all of this.
Write as much or as little as you like.
I would love to share your thoughts and comments with my followers.
3 thoughts on “What do you like most about the Historical Fiction genre?”
As a fan of Billy Battles, I must confess my favorite 19th-century literary “hero” is George MacDonald Fraser’s irredeemable and utterly deplorable Harry Flashman—a rascal and a rogue, a scoundrel and a cad on his best days. As I circled the world from Afghanistan through Zimbabwe, I usually had a copy of a Flashman adventure handy hear the top of my kit, and I often learned Sir Harry had blundered through the same hellholes long before I did, and he invariably shared words of wisdom about the culture of our hosts. Historical fiction taught me about the world and its history as I lived through my own version, reinventing 19th-century mistakes in the latter half of the 20th century and early 21st. I learned human nature has remained the same from historical times to today. Historical fiction can help us avoid old missteps and free us to make our own. Viva Historical Fiction!
I like Flashman also. In fact, I posted about him a while back. I may repost that piece. The guy is one of literature’s great scoundrels.
I eagerly anticipate your repost. As I enjoy rereading various installments of the Flashman saga, I’ll enjoy reading your take, even if it’s a repeat.