Historical Fiction discussion

unrelated things > Can a scientist write a decent historical mystery?

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message 1: by VE (new)

VE Smith (girona) | 3 comments It's a fair question that only you can answer for me. My new novel, Findings, was just published on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Here's a synopsis:

October 26,1588. A Spanish warship of the Armada wrecks in a storm on the coast of Northern Ireland. In 1967, divers find the Girona's remains and recover its treasures. As our story begins five years later, it seems these relics still have the power to inspire the best and worst of human endeavor.
July 4, 1972. A restless young Californian arrives in western Ireland to search for a long-lost relative. He soon intervenes in a peculiar robbery of a jewelry store, and is invited to stay with the shopkeeper and her niece. His inquiries with the local Garda sergeant lead to investigations of two possible conspiracies involving ancient Spanish treasure and arms smuggling—with dangerous consequences. When his findings begin to threaten powerful interests, the conspirators mark him for elimination. Meanwhile, the niece helps him look for the lost relative, and they discover something neither had bargained for. As his time in Ireland runs short, their budding attraction, his family search, the criminal investigations—all seem to be going nowhere. Then, everything changes . . .
Unfolding against a background of Ireland’s Troubles and the Vietnam War, this is at heart a love story in which echoes of history transform lives through unexpected means.

My website www.findingsnovel.com provides the first chapter and links to the listings. I will sincerely appreciate any comments or reviews, pro or con.

V. E. (Vann) Smith

message 2: by Belinda (new)

Belinda (innieminnie) | 1 comments Hello Mr. Smith,

Thanks for your invite. We are very curious for the rest of the book. Sounds quite interesting. Aldo we have a libary at home for people who are not able to pay books or go to a library due to poverty. Hopefully we win a copy.

Theo en Belinda Augustinus
Venlo, The Netherlands

message 3: by VE (new)

VE Smith (girona) | 3 comments Belinda, thanks for your interest, and I’ll be happy to gift an ebook copy to anyone who would like to review the book online. I'm not sure yet what it costs to have a hard copy sent there.

On reflection, I think the question I posed about whether a scientist can write good historical fiction is rather bogus. It’s true that your personal knowledge base, whatever it is, can help make the details of your story more convincing, but that has little to do with imagination or expressing yourself well. Scientific training in particular can make you a better, more objective observer of life, but it might also tend to make your writing more geeky and pedantic. In my career I did try hard to write about science in a clear direct way. I don’t claim to understand why, for some of us—regardless of background—it’s so very rewarding to find just the right words and way of expressing things in writing. Or why, for that matter, I felt driven to write a first novel in my seventies, after writing so much technical stuff over the years.

I have to say that these four years of writing fiction have been such a learning experience for me, not to mention humbling. For instance, in my naiveté, I originally thought of my characters as just vehicles to move the plot along. At some point, though, they were no longer my creations, but gradually became people I knew—some of them very well. And then I couldn’t imagine abandoning them before they completed their story. (That must be a common experience of fiction writers.) And despite all of my historical mystery plotting, this became mainly a story of ordinary people dealing with twists of fate and finding love along the way. Who knew (not me!) that I’d ever aspire to write a love story?

My other epiphany was realizing how much effort and persistence it takes to create and publish a respectable book on your own: all the research and composition, the many revisions and rounds of editing, the formatting and designing the cover, etc. It’s a huge commitment, and it just takes time for ideas to develop and gel. If you care about it, you are never not writing it—in your head at least. I know that it’s a good strategy in self-publishing these days to develop a series of stories around some quirky protagonist, and crank out novels for your loyal following that you cultivate through social media. But I confess to having no interest in all that. As I see it, if you are simply moved to write a story, then you should try it, if only for your own creative satisfaction.

message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Kincheloe (jrobin66) | 5 comments I'm a scientist and I write historical fiction. My debut novel THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC comes out Nov 3rd. I just got this today. It's what Booklist says about my novel.
“Delightful…. Anna is a wonderfully independent character. Fans of Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy and Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Phryne Fisher will become fast friends with Anna Blanc.”
-Booklist, STARRED REVIEW, October 1, 2015

message 5: by Rose (new)

Rose Scott (roseseilerscott) | 23 comments I don't think author Louise Marley is a scientist but her book The Glass Harmonica
has a scientific theme to it. I read it a number of years ago, but it weaves in and out of two time periods and features Benjamin Franklin, sound waves and a harmonica. Elements of science and science fiction, but still what I would consider a historical novel and a good read.

message 6: by VE (new)

VE Smith (girona) | 3 comments I haven't yet read the Glass Harmonica, but that is an interesting concept. It occurs to me that sometimes a certain year in recent times may be rich in events (scientific or not) that cry out for a plot and characters that connect these events in an interesting way. Or some recent event might echo one in the distant past. I have a personal preference for stories that do that sort of thing. Of course, there's no substitute for believable character development as well. But it seems to me that a lot of modern novels are about little more than their idiosyncratic characters. I need a good story line that helps the characters—rather ordinary people—to respond and develop in unexpected ways. All of the above is what I tried to accomplish in my historical mystery, Findings (www.findingsnovel.com). You can be the judge of whether it works or not.

message 7: by Emmanuella (new)

Emmanuella Avembeh | 3 comments Rose wrote: "I don't think author Louise Marley is a scientist but her book The Glass Harmonica
has a scientific theme to it. I read it a number of years ago, but it weaves in and..."

Emma wrote:"It seems to me, she might be a scientist, from your description"

message 8: by Emmanuella (new)

Emmanuella Avembeh | 3 comments you might want to check out books by Diana Gabaldon, they are tots interesting

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