I’ve been cruising the Web for engaging blogs, posts, forums, etc., related to historical fiction. There are hundreds of them, but I’ll just list the handful I had time to really look at in the hopes you may enjoy them too.
Although I’ve written a novel set in an historical era (medieval Italy), I haven’t really thought of myself as an historical novelist–up until now. But as I start delving deeper into the genre as a whole, I realize that the vast majority of my favourite novels over the years have included at least some historical elements. So yes — I’m a lover of historical fiction and a novelist of historical fiction (with an arts twist). Phew! I’ve made the leap.
Here are some great historical fiction-related blogs I’ve read this week.
2013 Favourite Fiction Authors
2013 Favourite Historical Fiction Authors. This list by blogger M.K. Todd, who I just discovered on the Historical Fictionistas discussion on Goodreads, has put together a great list of the most popular historical novelists. Topping the list is Diana Gabaldon. I’ve seen Diana speak a few times at the Surrey Writers’ Conference and even met her once (she read and said she liked the first chapter of “The Towers of Tuscany”). She is a major force in the historical fiction world, that’s for sure. I also learned a lot from hearing her speak about scene structuring, pacing, and how to incorporate historical details into the action while avoiding the dreaded info dump! Other authors on the list include many, many of my favorites: Ken Follett, Alison Weir, Mary Renault (oldie but goodie), James Michener (of course!), Tracy Chevalier (love her), Sarah Dunant, Elizabeth Peters (makes me laugh), and wonderful Hillary Mantel. Several of these, particularly Chevalier, Dunant, and Mantel, are my particular inspirations.
Historical Novel Society
I was very excited to land upon the Historical Novel Society during my travels around the Web in search of like-minded folks. The HNS describes itself as a “literary society devoted to promoting the enjoyment of historical fiction.” Sounds good to me. The Web site reviews novels (over 9,811 reviews last time I checked) and includes several hundred feature articles that members of the society can access to read about topics related to historical novels. I particularly appreciated the following articles:
Hidden Treasures for Historical Research provides sources for historical novelists to use in their research: “digitized documents/images that are available on the internet for free, and print or online resources that could be useful to generate story ideas.” The author promises a quarterly column which I look forward to reading. Her reference to the website www.therosewindow.com leads to a medieval stained glass photographic archive that I found very useful because of my interest in medieval art.
Indie Roundup: Stand-Out Independently Published Novels of 2013: Access to this article is for members of the Historical Novel Society only (I recommend joining) so I won’t include a link. However, I was heartened to read that the good folks at the Historical Novel Society recognize that indie-published books do not necessarily mean poorly written books! As the author of the article writes “Quite a few [indie novels] are darn good reads, and some are absolute gems! It is exhilarating to discover the diamonds that have been hidden in the shadows.” Now that’s music to my ears!
I was particularly excited to discover that the Historical Novel Society organizes an annual conference. The 2014 conference is being held in September in London, England. I hope I will be able to attend. I think it would be just wonderful to hang out with fellow historical fiction novelists and readers, particularly in London. I have an ulterior motive for wanting to spend time in London this fall. My next novel (after the one I’m currently writing) is set in London in 1809 and revolves upon the notorious “Old Price ” riots that raged for 66 days at Covent Garden Theater when the owners had the temerity to raise the ticket prices. It’s a fascinating period and of course, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is the place to go for some wonderful primary sources.
Check out the Historical Novel Society – it’s a keeper.
I really liked the look of the Unusual Historicals Web site. For one thing, I love the name. Unusual Historicals – it conjures up images of quirky facts, eccentric characters, and charming events that haven’t made it to the mainstream but that are wonderfully fascinating–in short, just the kind of thing historical novelists and readers thrive upon. The purpose of the website is to “promote the authors of historical works of fiction.” I resonated with their description at the top of the Home Page:
A handful of historical authors brave the wilds of unusual settings and times to create distinctive, exciting novels just outside of the mainstream.
Yes! Unusual settings and times are right up my alley, both as a reader and writer. I’m getting interviewed on Unusual Historicals in March so that will be cool. I like cruising around their author interviews for inspiration. This site is a good place to go to find a great cross-section of historical novels.
I stumbled upon the Historical Tapestry Website when I was looking for a reader’s challenge with an historical twist. I even signed up to review a book a week. It’s not February and it hasn’t happened, but I did at least try. The Historical Tapestry blog hosts a 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Check out the long list of readers and their recommendations. You’re sure to find a few gems.
Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours
Of course, I’m looking to promote the release of my own novel “The Towers of Tuscany” and what better way to do it than by participating in a blog tour? But I didn’t think that a generic blog tour would be useful so I went looking for a blog tour that specialized in historical fiction and found the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour Web site. I spoke with the owner of the site on the phone (always nice to connect with a real person in the real world) and she was very professional and encouraging. I booked my blog tour of 20 historical fiction blogs in mid April. I feel pretty confident that the money will be well spent to get the word out about “The Towers of Tuscany” to readers and reviewers who enjoy historical fiction.
That’s the roundup of cool historical fiction sites for today. I’ll look for more and post again in a few weeks.