Friday, March 9, 2012

Follow Friday -- Historical Fiction Edition

Before I got an agent, before GILT sold, I can't tell you how many times I heard "Historicals don't sell."  Or how many agents and editors I heard at conferences tell the room, "Just don't send me any historical fiction."

It can be a little discouraging, I tell you.

But I had to write what I write.  I love the process.  Digging deep into the history to find as many facts as I can, the puzzle pieces from which I can build a picture.  But it's like the picture is merely a pencil drawing (and often an unfinished one at that) and it's up to me to fill in the color and life.  I love it.

And others do, too.  Apparently there are several agents and editors out there who didn't get the memo about historical fiction.  Or maybe, just maybe, times are changing.

SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen debuted on Valentine's Day.  It's a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, but steeped in the history of the period.  I loved it, and blogged about it over on the YA Muses.

I'm currently reading GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers and wow.  Just wow.  Gorgeous history, fascinating characters, awesome premise.  And a truly kick-butt heroine.  Love.

I'm dying to read THE WICKED AND THE JUST by J. Anderson Coats.  It's set in Medieval Wales and knowing Coats, is full of wicked quips and unfortunate situations.  Plus it's been getting starred reviews.  Do I really have to wait a month?

And later this year, expect to VENOM by Fiona Paul.  Gorgeous gowns, enigmatic masks and a mystery.  Lush and full of visual detail from Renaissance Venice.

Any historical novels you're looking forward to this year?  That you've read already and can't wait to read more?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day, celebrated around the world from Afghanistan to Zambia.  In some countries, it is treated almost like Mother's Day -- a day for men to honor the women in their lives, be they mothers, sisters, girlfriends, daughters.  But it is also a day to mark the achievements of women throughout the world.

Because I write about women in the 16th century, I think a lot about changes in the lives of women.  The girls in my stories are entirely at the mercy of the men in their lives.  Their fathers and eventually their husbands.  In many cases, choice was not an option.  Not in love.  Not in life.  And certainly not in career.

I was raised by a staunch feminist.  I grew up shouting about equal rights and equal pay.  About choice.  I know that women have come a long way, even in the relatively short time I've been alive.  But I don't believe equality has been reached.  And I don't believe all battles have been won.  Attitudes and societal pressure can be as limiting to girls today as they were in the 16th century.  Look at the recent kerfuffle over Rush Limbaugh and his choice of words.  And in many countries, women are still at the mercy of their fathers.  And their husbands.  In some countries, girls are still considered worth less than boys.

So I try to write about girls who find ways to circumvent the attitudes and pressures.  Who create opportunities for themselves, to choose their own paths in life.  Perhaps that's where my meticulous attention to historical accuracy starts to unravel.  But for me, the unraveling is worth it.

Happy International Women's Day.  How are you going to celebrate?

Monday, March 5, 2012

On Being a History Geek

I am constantly awed by the life that I lead.  That I can combine two of my loves -- writing and history -- and create something that others want to read.  And I am so looking forward to hearing from readers and what (if anything) they find inspirational within the pages.

I've had many people ask me about the amount of research that goes into writing historical fiction for young adults.  And if it's hard.  Or tedious.

It's a lot of research.  And sometimes it is tedious.  But I love discovering little nuggets of information that can enliven and enrich my writing.  I love sticking tiny hints into the book that no one but another lover of Tudor history would find.  And I love reading more and discovering new things -- even if it turns out to mean that I haven't got everything absolutely accurate in the book.  Because history isn't a static thing -- someone is always coming up with new information or an interesting new theory.

Here are somethings I'm excited about today:

Claire Ridgway at The Anne Boleyn Files has published a book gleaned from her blog posts over the years.  Claire has an incredible work ethic and an attention to detail that I can only marvel at.  She's on a blog tour at the moment, and the first stop is an interview on the Tudor Tutor in which Claire divulges some delicious information on Thomas Boleyn.  Want to include this in a novel one day...

I'm going on a research trip to England again this year and can't wait to visit all the places I have planned.  The most exciting has little to do with Henry or his wives, but I've been wanting to go there for years.  Years!  Bosworth Field is the location of the battle where Richard III lost his throne (and his life) and launched the Tudor reign.  I am a devoted Ricardian and may not be able to stop myself from shouting "A horse!  A horse!  My kingdom for a horse!"

What excites you about history?