I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with historical fiction. I love to read it and hate to write it.
The first serious attempt was at the age of ten or eleven when I decided to write the next great American Girls series. It would all be about an Italian immigrant and her family as they seek a new home via the Oregon Trail. Over a year or two, I learned everything I could about the time: watched every History Channel show, wore lace up ankle boots everywhere I went, and played the Oregon Trail game millions of times over (though I only made it to Oregon occasionally because my parties always had a special weakness for cholera… and apparently, so did I).
After that, I ditched historical fiction (outside of the occasional school assignment) for creating worlds of my own. How much easier it is to build a foundation of knowledge–which, in my case, was all about the Middle Ages–and then pick and choose information to form imaginary worlds that follow my rules.
However, that has recently changed. Enter the new pet project short story. Born out of the desire to understand a notorious historical antagonist, I’ve played with the idea for almost two years. Over the past month, though, I have dedicated a great deal of time (yes, most of my writing time) to studying. And, while historical fiction is still a daunting task, I’ve learned that it’s not as bad as I dreaded it could be.
I always enjoyed studying history, and focusing the research to one time period, one situation, one person takes history from a broad topic that seems so hard to understand to just another case of understanding another author’s world enough to write about it. In the next week or so, the foundation of knowledge that I’ve accumulated will begin transforming into words that tell a story that I don’t think anyone else has told (at least from this perspective) before.
And yes, I promise to tell you what it’s about eventually. And, hopefully, I’ll also be able to tell you where you can read the whole thing too. ; )
Have you ever written historical fiction? What genre do you dread?