I often get asked why historical fiction? Why is historical fiction the genre I devour cover to cover? And why write historical fiction when it’s one of the most cumbersome, challenging genres to write? I think to answer that effectively, I first have to answer what is historical fiction?
A Complex Genre
Historical fiction is one of the trickiest genres to define. If you look it up anywhere you’ll get twelve different explanations. A genre of fiction that takes place in the past. A style of fiction whose events must take place at least fifty years ago etc. Those are the generic dictionary type definitions. To me, I think this is best answered by one of my favorite quotes by novelist Guy Vanderhaeghe. He says– “History tells us what people do: historical fiction helps us imagine how they felt.”
Where History & Creativity Combine
This is what I love about historical fiction. We always want to connect with the characters we’re reading about. But if the character is based on someone who actually lived? That completely ups the stakes! Historical fiction not only allows us to learn about history, we get to experience it with the character. This blurring of fact and fiction is what makes the historical fiction genre special. It intrigues readers into wanting to google facts and learn more as they read.
The other thing that makes historical fiction special is it’s the only genre that’s all encompassing and inclusive of everyone and all tastes. You like spy action thrillers? Check out a spy action thriller that takes place during WWII and guess what- it’s still considered historical fiction? Romance? Check out Outlander and every other time travel or Regency historical romance on the shelves. Trying to google examples of historical fiction you’ll find examples of every genre imaginable that just take place in the past.
Are you won over? Do you now feel you can not only defend historical fiction’s honor, but even understand why historical fiction is the best genre ever?
To enjoy some of my favorite historical fiction books check out my Book List page! Enjoy!
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