AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

12 views
What's New and What's Not

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments As you know, many historical novels recount the lives of real people. My favorite among this type of historical fiction is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Others revolve around real events in history but have fictionalized characters. Between Earth & Sky is of the latter type. The backdrop of the novel is all true: the boarding schools, the allotting of reservation land, the endemic belief of racial and religious superiority among whites. But the characters and the school are of my own imaginings, patterned after real children and real schools I learned about through memoirs and other historical texts. Many of these sources are listed in the Author’s Note at the back of the book.

Aside from the school itself, all of the places in the novel are real. I tried to paint them with as much historical accuracy as I could. Sometimes, this was easy. La Crosse, for example, has a wonderful online repository of old maps, pictures, and city histories (http://www.lacrossehistory.org/). For other places, like Gaa-waabaabiganikaag (the White Earth reservation), I had only a few pictures, journal articles, and old newspapers from which to draw. A few of places, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit. I’ll talk more on this in a later post, but one such place was Fort Snelling in Minnesota. It’s here that Alma’s friend Harry is imprisoned before the trial.

Do you prefer one type of historical fiction above another? One era or part of the world? Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Between Earth & Sky.


message 2: by Stella (new)

Stella McKissack (stellamckissack) | 38 comments I tend to enjoy books about historical events more. I would imagine doing the research would be very interesting, not to mention fun.


message 3: by Beverly (new)

Beverly I enjoy both types. It does depend on the character if it is about real people. I like almost any historical periods but my preference is the last couple hundred years. My own novel is about real people who are not well known which adds another variable in the mix of preferences. Sarah's Secret is based on the lives of my grandparents.


message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Stella wrote: "I tend to enjoy books about historical events more. I would imagine doing the research would be very interesting, not to mention fun."

It is fun! One of my favorite parts of the writing process. :)


message 5: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Beverly wrote: "I enjoy both types. It does depend on the character if it is about real people. I like almost any historical periods but my preference is the last couple hundred years. My own novel is about real p..."

Sounds interesting! Where is Sarah's Secret set? What sparked you to want to write their story?


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Artson (barbara_artson) | 21 comments Historical fiction is a great way to learn one's history. I wish that my history classes in high school included authentic accounts of the way the U.S. treated the indigenous peoples. I had to turn to Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States to receive a "corrective historical experience." And I agree that doing the research for my historical novel, Odessa, Odessa, was a very rewarding experience (not one of my favorite parts, but almost). What was my favorite part of the writing, was flushing out the characters (very loosely based on my grandparents' emigration to the New World) experience.


message 7: by Terry (new)

Terry Collins | 27 comments I have ancestors who were historical figures back in the 1600s, but if I were to try my hand at an historical novel aboUT that period, I would probably use the viewpoint of less famous or obscure figure. My novel, Vast Horizons, is about ordinary people who were caught up in extraordinary events in the 1800s.


message 8: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Amanda wrote: "Beverly wrote: "I enjoy both types. It does depend on the character if it is about real people. I like almost any historical periods but my preference is the last couple hundred years. My own novel..."
Sarah's Secret is set in several mid-western states, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming. It was inspired by the lives of my grandparents and my mysterious grandfather.


message 9: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Terry wrote: "I have ancestors who were historical figures back in the 1600s, but if I were to try my hand at an historical novel aboUT that period, I would probably use the viewpoint of less famous or obscure f..."
It would be interesting to use the viewpoint of a less famous person but include the historical or famous ancestors in the story. That would be fun to research and write.


message 10: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Barbara wrote: "Historical fiction is a great way to learn one's history. I wish that my history classes in high school included authentic accounts of the way the U.S. treated the indigenous peoples. I had to turn..."

How neat! Do you feel closer to your grandparents after writing the novel? I think of my own grandparents and how I spent most of my life viewing them through that "grandma" and "grandpa" lense. I imagine in writing about them I'd come to view them in a more rounded way.


message 11: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Beverly wrote: "Amanda wrote: "Beverly wrote: "I enjoy both types. It does depend on the character if it is about real people. I like almost any historical periods but my preference is the last couple hundred year..."

Sounds like a really interesting novel! I had family in several of those states too.


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Artson (barbara_artson) | 21 comments Odessa, Odessa: A NovelAmanda wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Historical fiction is a great way to learn one's history. I wish that my history classes in high school included authentic accounts of the way the U.S. treated the indigenous people..."


message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Artson (barbara_artson) | 21 comments Amanda: I definitely felt closer, and almost more importantly, proud of my grandparents. In writing about the imagined hardships my grandmother endured bearing total responsibility for bringing the 4 youngest children (including my mother) to this country~without language, education, experience~I am left with a sense of awe for her and for all immigrants.


message 14: by Terry (new)

Terry Collins | 27 comments Beverly wrote: "Terry wrote: "I have ancestors who were historical figures back in the 1600s, but if I were to try my hand at an historical novel aboUT that period, I would probably use the viewpoint of less famou..."
I don't understand how to reply to specific posts. There doesn't seem to be a way to do that.


message 15: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Terry wrote: "I have ancestors who were historical figures back in the 1600s, but if I were to try my hand at an historical novel aboUT that period, I would probably use the viewpoint of less famous or obscure f..."

I read the blurb for your novel. It sounds great! You touch on so many interesting periods/events.


message 16: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Barbara wrote: "Amanda: I definitely felt closer, and almost more importantly, proud of my grandparents. In writing about the imagined hardships my grandmother endured bearing total responsibility for bringing the..."

That is something to be proud of. What courage that must have taken for her to come (four little children in tow!).


message 17: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Barbara wrote: "Amanda: I definitely felt closer, and almost more importantly, proud of my grandparents. In writing about the imagined hardships my grandmother endured bearing total responsibility for bringing the..."
Yes, I concur. I have been both proud and in awe of my grandmother as well. To raise small children at a time when there were no jobs for women, no social security and so many challenges is awe inspiring.


message 18: by Terry (new)

Terry Collins | 27 comments Barbara wrote: "Historical fiction is a great way to learn one's history. I wish that my history classes in high school included authentic accounts of the way the U.S. treated the indigenous peoples. I had to turn..."
Where did your grandparents immigrate from, Barbara?


message 19: by Terry (new)

Terry Collins | 27 comments Barbara wrote: "Amanda: I definitely felt closer, and almost more importantly, proud of my grandparents. In writing about the imagined hardships my grandmother endured bearing total responsibility for bringing the..."
One of my great great grandmothers immigrated from Ireland as a widow in 1830, then trekked across America in 1852, at the age of 63, with her son and daughter and their families. Her son and daughter-in-law (my great grandparents) ended up burying 6 of their 7 children, while my grandmother, the youngest, lived to be 100. I would like to try to capture the life of this family, but how to deal with all that tragedy without overwhelming the reader with sadness.


message 20: by Terry (new)

Terry Collins | 27 comments Amanda wrote: "Terry wrote: "I have ancestors who were historical figures back in the 1600s, but if I were to try my hand at an historical novel aboUT that period, I would probably use the viewpoint of less famou..."
My great great grandfather, the lead character in my novel, had passed a scrapbook down through my family, and when I realized how many events his life touched upon, I felt I had to develop it into an historical novel. I had a sense of what my great great grandfather might have been like from some of his writings, but the other members of his family, who's' viewpoints I also used, I pretty much had to create their personalities from scratch.
I would be interested in hearing more about your novel, "Between Earth and Sky". My novel touches on the Trail of Tears, but I didn't really feel qualified to speak from the Native American viewpoint. Being my first novel, I chose to keep the viewpoint with that of a young lieutenant who was caught up in that dark episode of our history. I would be interested in how you capture the Native American viewpoint in your book.


message 21: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Terry wrote: "Amanda wrote: "Terry wrote: "I have ancestors who were historical figures back in the 1600s, but if I were to try my hand at an historical novel aboUT that period, I would probably use the viewpoin..."

Between Earth and Sky is told through the eyes of Alma, the daughter of a Native American boarding school superintendent. She's only seven when she and her family move to WI to found the school. She makes friends (sort of surreptitiously) with the Native American children at the school. But even though the main point-of-view character isn't Native American, I read several memoirs written by former boarding school attendees, books on Ojibwe, Menominee, Oneida, and Hochunk culture, spoke with Native Americans, and tried to incorporate several of these languages in the book as well.


message 22: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Skenandore (amandaskenandore) | 72 comments Terry wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Amanda: I definitely felt closer, and almost more importantly, proud of my grandparents. In writing about the imagined hardships my grandmother endured bearing total responsibility ..."

While there definitely seems to be a lot of sadness in your great-grandmother's story, there also seems to be a great deal of courage and resilience. Perhaps this will temper the sadness for your readers.


message 23: by Terry (new)

Terry Collins | 27 comments Beverly wrote: "I enjoy both types. It does depend on the character if it is about real people. I like almost any historical periods but my preference is the last couple hundred years. My own novel is about real p..."
Beverly, I finished you novel, Sarah's Secret, and posted a review on Amazon. It was very good! I'll send you an email with a few more comments.


back to top