Writing Historical Fiction - podcast

One of agent Kevan Lyon's favorite areas to work in is historical fiction. In this interview she shares tips for creating well-written historical fiction, with examples drawn from her own work. "The best authors in the genre are passionate about getting the history right," she says, "but because it's fiction, they get to use their imaginations, too." You're going to have readers that know the types of flowers growing in the region at certain times of the year so accuracy is vital. However, you get to create and develop relationships in a way that allows people to connect with your readers. The balance is tricky, but the payoff of writing really beautiful historical fiction is fantastic.

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  • I have written three books based in the 17th century, following the lives of a family. The two initial characters are caught up in the Civil War. She is the daughter of a strip farmer and he is the son of a merchant. Finding out about the housing of the poorer members of society, and things like household items and cooking, has been very difficult as most books tell you about the homes of the gentry but I have had great fun researching everything. Thank you for such a helpful article.
  • Thank you for reminding me about the importance of accurate detail. What is challenging is the translation of modern terms and names for things into the historical language of the characters. For example, the Meso-American people of the Pre-Columbian era, which is the setting for my book "In the Days of Lachoneus", would certainly not know the Latin names for the genus and species that I find in the encyclopedia today. They knew about monkeys and toucans and frogs and snakes and oak trees and fan palms and mahogany trees. Living close to nature, they surely would have had distinguishing names for all of the varieties. But I have no way of knowing what they would have called them. So I am choosing to use generic descriptions - red monkeys, orange toucans, poison tree frogs, striped snakes, etc. Readers who know Central America will hopefully recognize the things I am describing without the anachronisms of modern terminology.
  • Former Member
    Former Member
    so glad you liked this interview Jacqueline. Thanks for the positive feedback.
  • I followed your advice and I enjoyed writing my historical ficion novel The Great Enclosure. Thanks.
  • Your advice on historical fiction is of great value and it is true that even the issues that you think are minor like the type of rose that grew in England at that time of year are very important. Thank you for making me know that nothing should be taken for granted and how important it is to pick characters