In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. 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!


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.