Monday, January 9, 2017

Choosing Your Era: Two Approaches

Thinking of writing historical fiction? Struggling to decide upon the era in which to set your story? I'm not sure historical fiction authors actually approach their stories this way, but I made a couple of interesting observations when I came across this very interesting Timeline of Middle Grade Fiction 2016 on

I was surprised to notice that The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz is the first selection, taking place in the year 1242, and my own novel Caravaggio: Signed in Blood is second, taking place in 1606 and afterward. Not one story from ancient times? No Renaissance? (1606 is really after the Renaissance, what we call the Baroque now.) Compare this with the 1940s: 11 titles in that short period alone. The nineteenth century has 10 offerings. Granted, this is not necessarily an exhaustive list, but consider its implications.

On the one hand, there is opportunity for writers to delve into these less-explored periods, and of course greater competition from other writers if you choose one of the more crowded eras. On the other hand, this may also be a reflection of book buyers. Perhaps there is a greater hunger for books of the 1940s, less desire to read stories set in ancient times.

I don't have an answer. Like I said, I only find the differences interesting.

The truth is, we write where we see the potential for a story, whatever the era. Still, I'm glad I was able to fill in the 1606 slot!