In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

History/Fiction: How Historical Fiction Works


Where are the "lines" in a book of historical fiction, so you can tell what's really from history and what's the story crafted by the author? Gosh, it would be nice in some ways to have the sections in different colors of ink on the page, so readers could know for sure!

But that's not what historical fiction does -- and I don't think it should. I think historical fiction lets readers enter into what a fictional person could have experienced during a particular time period in a particular situation. The best historical fiction, like THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND by Elizabeth George Speare, or like JIP by Katherine Paterson, or M. T. Anderson's THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION, keeps you reading while also traveling in time and tasting another person's life -- along with its complications, risks, adventures, and often courage and success.

This Saturday, January 10, when I visit Otter Creek Used Books in Middlebury, Vermont, owner Barbara Harding and I will pull out books from the crowded shelves there, to demonstrate how to start the historical research that lies behind each such novel -- and also how to chase down the tiny details that add reality and truth to the story as you write. I'll talk about how this applies to THE DARKNESS UNDER THE WATER, and maybe to some of the other books in the shop. Hope to see you there!

I'll also visit Northshire Books (Manchester, VT) at 2 p.m. on the same day. We won't have such an unusual program format there -- but Northshire has a stunning selection of books, and if your travels are more likely to take you to Manchester, I'll see you "down south" for sure. Many thanks to both of these shops for making these special times for talking about books, about story, and about why we read!

2 comments:

KateMessner said...

What a terrific idea for an event - I wish I'd seen this in time to make the trip, but I'm giving a workshop at the DCF conference and should have a chance to hear your presentation there. I'm looking forward to reading your book!

Beth Kanell said...

Kate, it will be great to meet you in May -- and I hope the schedule lets me attend your workshop there.

My word for the week in historic fiction is honor: As writers, we honor the truth. And as storytellers, we present a protagonist who is honorable -- who strives for truth and justice, while also savoring the joy and pain of being fully alive.