Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Keeping the Faith

"The market for historicals is tight." "Historicals are dying." "You can't sell a historical in today's market place."

We historical writers have all heard these lines. So how do you keep going? How do you find the faith to continue with your historical story?

When I first started writing, historical romances dominated. And you could find a book from a variety of eras. Personally, I think the market has been so badly filtered, it damaged itself. Let's face it, when was the last time you read a historical which didn't take place in Regency England? Yeah, they are out there, but you got to look. When was the last time you read a book that didn't take place in the British Isles?

Author Lydia Joyce has broken from the mold. Her last book Music of the Night took place in Venice. Her next release takes place in Eastern Europe. And her books are selling. Is this sending a message to the editors and publishers? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for historical writers?

I confess, I've put aside my aspirations of writing about the American Colonies or the War for Independence at this point. A book on the Revolution would be so exhaustive to research, I don't have the heart to do so and see my story never sell. However, I find I can't write Regency. I've tried and while I can do it, I don't enjoy it. I have nothing against it, I happen to prefer other eras. I keep writing historical because it is what I enjoy and I happen to be good at. But I have found myself developing my skills in other genres. Is it giving up? Hmm, not sure. Jayne Ann Krentz does it, but there are a bunch of historical authors that have jumped the ship and are now writing contemporary.

What do you think?

Friday, March 03, 2006

More on historical accuracy...

Rene blogged about this the other day, and I'm going to add something more here - after reading more in a book I'm reviewing for the Historical Novel Society.

Why, oh why, do authors slip little bits of history into their books without doing the proper research? Until last night, I was having a pretty good time with this particular story. A little overwritten in bits, but so far - a fun romp. THEN, the author drops in two pages with one character telling the other about some background info, using events with which I'm well familiar. To put it bluntly, she got things WAY wrong. Not just a little wrong, but WAY wrong. It was clear to me she'd done little research and just gone with what she thought she knew.

Now, had this gone to another reviewer, this might not have been caught. But it didn't and it has. I was sooooo frustrated. What possible reason could this writer have for NOT double and triple-checking her facts? It completely spoils the credibility of the book for me - I don't particularly want to finish it at this point, but I will.

It's not even like the research would have taken all that long. There were just a few tidbits of history that needed a quick review and all would have been well. Instead, the history was just tossed in, apparently to add to the drama of the personal background being revealed. Which might work with most readers, but for those who are aware of what really happened it will only serve to make them want to toss the book against the nearest wall.

Such carelessness just burns me. And to what end? Now I question everything I've read so far. Does this author think people just really don't care? Does he/she really not respect the intelligence of the reader? I've no idea. Or maybe the scene was inserted at the last moment and time ran out. Either way, considering the facts were those that easily could have been checked both online and in a couple of basic sources available at any decent library, it smacks of laziness.

Now, maybe I should give the author a break. But, knowing any number of unpublished writers who, like me, go the distance to create realistic settings in the past, it makes me angry.

So - how do YOU react when you find really blatant errors in a novel? Does it bother you like it does me? Or do you just shrug it off and move one?