Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction’

How to redeem a gifted Audible Book direct from the author

November 30, 2018

If you are interested in historical fiction about strong female leaders, try this!

via How to redeem a gifted Audible Book direct from the author

I’ve Been Interviewed!

June 5, 2016

Annie Whitehead, an award-winning historical fiction writer and a member of the Historical Fiction Society, was kind enough to interview me for her blog.

http://anniewhitehead2.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/from-charlemagne-to-shakespeare-and.html

May 12, 2012

As a writer in general, and specifically related to HF, I found this article very interesting in that numbers and comments give great insights into what interests readers or turns them off. I made a comment on this blog about POV, another area that, in my experience, is very important to many readers. Any reactions to this blog, or thoughts on POV?

All about historical fiction

588 readers responded with enthusiasm to the question “what detracts from your enjoyment of historical fiction”.

44% Inaccuracies – includes seeing modern sensibilities in a historic setting, anachronisms, dialogue that does not fit the period, poor research, moving major dates to suit a story line and so on.

2% Dialogue – several people complained that using too much dialogue from a long ago period takes away from the ease of reading.

9%  Sex & Violence – this refers to stories with too much sex and violence rather than too little 🙂 In addition, some readers specifically mentioned gory battle scenes.

15%  Too much detail – refers to stories weighted down with reams of historical detail, almost as though the author wanted to include every bit of research found on a particular aspect of history.

15% Pace, Plot & Character – in the main, these comments referred to problems that can…

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On Bill Gates, Computers, Microsoft, Cars, and the Ford Motor Company

April 24, 2012

Some of you may know I write historical fiction. For modern writers, computers are the ultimate love/hate relationship. Not only do we write on the ‘puter and store our work on all of those frustrating peripherals, but (especially for historical fiction writers) the internet is an infinite source of research material – when it’s working. One of my critique group members (yes, via the internet, over at least three countries!) shared this little gem with us, and I just had to pass it on. I hope you enjoy.

At the recent COMDEX computer expo, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated:  “If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to Bill’s comments, Ford issued a press release stating:  “If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash…twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single ‘This Car Has Performed an Illegal Operation’ warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask ‘Are you sure?’ before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the ‘Start’ button to turn the engine off.

My group member added one more little tidbit: When all else fails, you could call ‘customer service’ in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!

Don’t Knock Historical Fiction — ALL History is Fiction!

February 11, 2010

As a writer of historical fiction, I’m sometimes asked how much “real history” I put in my books. My stock answer is: ALL history is fiction. This sometimes baffles people, but most often irritates them. Please allow me to explain.

What is “real history” anyway? Science tells us that there are two types of biases: the bias that comes from an observer’s viewpoint, and the deliberate bias that comes from motivation.

As to the first, was the historian actually at the event he/she is describing? Did they see the action, or hear the words spoken? In almost all cases, they are recreating an event from documents and verbal testimony of “eyewitnesses”, who (if they were really at the scene, unlike many who claim to have been) may have been extremely limited in what they actually witnessed. In the best of cases, they are not trained observers or recorders anyhow. Such second-hand accounts are sketchy at best; think of the Warren Commission Report. Examining that report today, we find many inconsistencies, uncertainties, and downright deliberate falsehoods. If we cannot even know exactly what went on with a modern event that was witnessed on television by millions of people, how can we know what went on in events hundreds and thousands of years ago?

As to “primary documents”, have you ever written a memo about a corporate event you were involved in, or a letter to a friend relating some incident in your life? Just between you and me, were you totally honest about what happened? Did you paint yourself in the glaring light of “truth”, or perhaps embellish your role just a tiny bit? Did you ever once make the other guy the hero? Yeah, well, all of those olden time folks who wrote their memoirs, or letters to friends, or whatever, did exactly the same. Even if they tried to be accurate, have you ever had someone read your memo and tell you they were unclear on what exactly you meant to say?

For the second, the old saying” “The victors get to write history”, has a lot more meaning than the surface value. In some cases, many of the ancient monarchs hired historians to write of their exploits–that becomes little more than propaganda. In many cases, such as Shakespeare’s “Richard III”, it was politically and financially expedient for him to explain events in a way that would be pleasing to the sitting monarch, Elizabeth Tudor.

Speaking of whom, when doing research for “The Shakespeares and the Crown”, I read some historians who claimed Robert Dudley (later the Earl of Leicester), son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was born on the same date as Elizabeth, while some said up to a year before her. Since the christening dates of all peers were recorded, how can they be that far off on a prominent figure in Elizabethan history! Those are the primary documents we’re relying on.

Even if a person does not have a religious, political, financial, or other motivation in “slanting” what happened, writers of history still have personal biases for or against an individual or a particular side in a conflict that colors the way in which they portray the events. For example, early historians portrayed Christopher Columbus as a courageous hero who “discovered” America. Later historians say he never set foot on American soil, and committed genocide and slavery in the Hispaniolas. How about the great emancipationist, Abraham Lincoln? It turns out he was no more a fan of African-Americans than Governor George Wallace. We have recently learned that it was his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who constantly urged him to grant equality. His original plan to get solve the “black problem” was to ship them all to a new colony in South America.

When writing my novels, I do as much research as possible, but find so many conflicting accounts and opinions that it’s difficult to gain a clear picture of what “really” happened. So, my view of historical fiction is to go with what the historians tell us as much as possible, but realize that they were no more “there” than I was, and my version of what happened, within the bounds of known data and logic, is just as valid as theirs. Maybe more so: at least I label mine as fiction on the cover.