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Historical Fiction Discussions > favorite time in history

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message 1: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments I´m trying to get inspired to write a new novel but nothing is coming to me. I have some ideas but nothing solid yet.

What time in history do you think is the most fascinating? I would be grateful for anything that will get my muse to wake up.

Thank you.

message 2: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Byrne (katarina66) | 38 comments I would go with WW1.

message 3: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 472 comments Byzantium.

message 4: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Thank you everyone!

Why do you like your time periods so much? What makes it especially interesting for you?

message 5: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 564 comments WWI intrigues me because, while I remember learning about it in school, it seemed quite glossed over compared to how much time we spent learning about WW2. I also love the Romanov era, because (again) I never learned much Russian history.

message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Daifuku (barcelona1906) | 29 comments Hi Helen.
As a fellow author I feel it’s important to relate whatever period you decide to write about to present circumstances, even if in a roundabout sort of way. Otherwise it’s difficult for the reader to become highly involved. In that light, I find it harder to write an interesting novel placed, for example, in ancient Greece that a couple of centuries ago. I mean, how many people have read Homer’s Iliad ?

message 7: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 248 comments My favorite period is the 18th century particularly the 18th century revolutions in the U.S. and France. I am very interested in Haiti's revolution as well and need to read more about it.

message 8: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 472 comments Byzantium because it was dynamic, vibrant and forgotten by most novelists.

message 9: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Thank you so much everyone.

My two other novels were both the 19th Century and early 20th Century, WW1 was in the background in one of them, but it did not have a real role.

I like what you wrote Jonathan about relating it to today. I also want to really feel for a time period and what went on during that time.
I'm thinking a little about the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, but so far no character have to come to life.
Vikings may not be a bad idea actually. I might look into that more.

message 10: by Michele (new)

Michele I like the late Medieval/Renaissance - so many changes going on socially, politically, in religion, science, war, culture clashes - all over the world.

Japan dealing with Shoguns and Protestants, South America being invaded by the Spanish, the US and Canada being colonized, wars all across Europe, slave trading from Africa, pirates

message 11: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Kitchen (melissammk) | 8 comments 1 - Romanov Russia has long been a passion of mine, especially Nicholas II and his family. How they impacted events, and were impacted by them, is so interesting to me.

2 - Victorian and early Edwardian England. The royal family had such widespread influence, and the personalities are so intriguing

3 - Currently, I'm really interested in Richard III and 'the Princes in the Tower'.

message 12: by Helena (new)

Helena Schrader Helen,

I've written books set in a variety of periods (WWII, Ancient Sparta, Crusader Jerusalem), but it has rarely been the period itself that has inspired me. I've been inspired by stories -- true stories -- of people and places. Depending on where you live, why not go visit some historic places (castles, battlefields, or stately homes or museums etc.) and see if you don't stumble across a little known fact that or a controversial personality that lights a spark?

message 13: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Daifuku (barcelona1906) | 29 comments Hi again Helen:
Another thought: There are hundreds of books written on great world events: the 1929 depression, the first WW… But isn’t it a lot more interesting to research periods just BEFORE those events? What lead up to them? Besides, a lot less has been written about the BEFORE….

message 14: by Helen (last edited May 03, 2015 05:25AM) (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Jonathan,

Actually, that is exactly what I did in my novel James' Journey, it is about the abolitionist movement just before the civil war.

I could not agree more.


That is a very good idea, I can definitely go around and see what I find in my own neighborhood. There are a couple of things I can think of actually.

Thank you so much everyone, you are already a great help!

message 15: by Jaye (new)

Jaye  | 22 comments An example of the time I like reading about is in THE CITADEL by A.J. Cronin (I couldn't get the add book/author thing to work for this author).
here is the main link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6...

It is about a doctor, the early 1920's in a mining town in the UK and was a National Book Award winner for 1937.
I was introduced to the book by Masterpiece Theater on PBS as a series many years ago.
The life and the hardships of that time have been a reading interest for me.

message 16: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Thank you Jaye, I will take a look.

message 17: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Jaye, just had a look and suddenly I remembered, if I´m not wrong this was a series that was popular in the 80´s?
I think I watched it with my parents. I had completely forgotten about this!

message 18: by Jaye (new)

Jaye  | 22 comments Not sure about the decade, but it was a bit of time ago.
I think it is available for watching online, or from the library. I, having an ancient computer without even SOUND (broken long ago), cannot watch it online.

looked it up. 1983.

message 19: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Bennett | 87 comments I have followed this thread with some interest, and I wonder if I can throw in geography as another factor for the discussion. At present I'm writing about history on the 14th Century Anglo-Scottish border, because it is literally in my own back yard, but there are a couple of other eras that have a strong appeal, and where geography plays a major part in my feelings.

I like all history. I have just read, and thoroughly enjoyed, Year of the Hyenas: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Egypt, but I have no great desire to set a novel in Egypt. I would certainly like to find out more about its history, but as a setting for a novel - not really.

The two areas of the world that particularly appeal to me are the American Rocky Mountains and Central Europe. At some time I would really like to try something about the explorations conducted by people like John Muir, and the evolution of the National Park system. With Central Europe, my fascination is with the immediate aftermath of World War 1 and the break-up of the Habsburg Empire. I find the end of the communist regimes in 1979 equally fascinating. So IF I ever finish this series of border novels, it will be the geography of one of those two areas that dictate my next efforts.

Unless something equally fascinating crops in in the meantime!

message 20: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Jerry,
That is a very important point. It is important to know where the borders were in your time period, they may have been very different from where they are now.

The National Park System sounds interesting!

message 21: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 517 comments My favorites are Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and Tudor England.

message 22: by Paula (new)

Paula Moss (goodreadscompaulacmoss) | 20 comments English Civil War, French Revolution, American Civil War,

message 23: by Paula (new)

Paula Moss (goodreadscompaulacmoss) | 20 comments Basically - I love revolutions because they usually present people with a problem - take sides with the old regime or join forces with the new....I like the idea of ordinary people living through extraordinary times that involve the emergence of innovative political thinking and social movements. Revolutions are different to 'normal' wars because they have a pure social idea (usually) as the key driving force. They are driven by the 'Grassroots' and throw up original thinkers and rule breakers.

message 24: by Laura (new)

Laura Gill | 162 comments My favorites are Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece.

message 25: by James (new)

James Aura (jamesaura) | 1 comments Around 1215 when human rights were just a glimmer in the eye of the Regents of Europe and England. The Magna Carta set off a chain of most interesting events which affect western civilization even today.

message 26: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 717 comments Well, I am an outlier, because I am having a great time in 1530s Russia and especially enjoy researching the Tatars, about whom I know less than I know about the Russians. As a reader, I'm fascinated by China, ancient Egypt, and medieval and 18th-century Europe.

But with all due respect, aren't you going about this backwards? I would look for the right story first, then worry about the time and place where that story could take place. Just be sure that if the choice means years of research, the time and place can keep you interested long enough to complete it....

message 27: by Laura (new)

Laura Gill | 162 comments Helen wrote: "I´m trying to get inspired to write a new novel but nothing is coming to me. I have some ideas but nothing solid yet.

What time in history do you think is the most fascinating? I would be grateful..."

I would not try to force the Muse. When it comes, you won't expect it, and it'll lead you in places you never dreamed. But if you're going to write anything, you'd better make sure you're absolutely in love with your setting, characters, etc., because you're going to be spending a LOT of time with them.

message 28: by Laura (last edited May 09, 2015 08:20PM) (new)

Laura Gill | 162 comments Jonathan wrote: "Hi Helen.
As a fellow author I feel it’s important to relate whatever period you decide to write about to present circumstances, even if in a roundabout sort of way. Otherwise it’s difficult for t..."

That's actually not true, Jonathan. Characters in historical fiction have to think, act, and speak in ways that are organic to their period, otherwise you might as well be writing a contemporary novel. You can't, for instance, have an ancient Greek woman who thinks or behaves like a modern-day American woman. What I think you mean to say is that the reader needs to be able to understand and relate to the motivations/beliefs of that historical character.

Also, a good many people have read the Iliad. And if you're writing a book set in that ancient period, you'd better get those details right, because your audience will know. That's true for any historical period. Don't, for example, have Romans of the Republican period using stirrups, because stirrups didn't enter the West until the Hunnic invasions of the Early Dark Ages.

message 29: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments CP, That is a really good point! That is a much better way to go about it. Thank you.

Laura, you are right too, it has to come by itself, like you said once it does it will flow.
I´m really itching for a story though and I´m trying to look into different things to see if my muse appears.

message 30: by C.P. (last edited May 10, 2015 03:35PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 717 comments I do sympathize with the itchy feeling. But Laura's right, even so. I've been working on my WIP—no. 3 in a series, characters I know!—for ten months, and I'm only now starting to feel that I understand what the story is.

Maybe start free associating, give what Stephen King calls "the boys in the basement" (your subconscious) permission to throw up a few crucial images? It sounds insanely woo-woo, I know, but if fiction were logical, why would we bother with it?

And whatever you do to stir the fires, good luck! Something will show up in due course, I'm sure.

message 31: by Tom (new)

Tom Williams | 113 comments The end of the 18th century/start of the 19th century marked a period of immense change in politics, philosophy and technology. As Wordsworth said, 'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!' I blog aboutthe period occasionally: for example, http://thewhiterajah.blogspot.co.uk/2...

message 32: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments C.P, Boys in the basement, that sounds intriguing, any tips on how to do that?

Tom, I have been thinking about that, it would give me a lot to write about. I would love to take a look at your blog! Thank you.

message 33: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Gabridge | 29 comments I agree with Laura that you need to give yourself the chance to fall in love with an era in history. For me, I'm usually drawn to a story about specific people first (astronomers Kepler and Tycho, William Tyndale and the English Reformation, Robert Smalls in the American Civil War) and then the setting comes after. (But most of my historical work has been for stage, rather than fiction.) I loved learning about the U.S. Civil War and the Post Civil War 19th Century in Boston.

message 34: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Thanks, I just got an idea that I think I will go with. I'm waiting for a reply from a historian to see if there can be enough for me to build a whole story or not, I can't say anything else now, but I promise I'll keep you posted.

message 35: by Laura (last edited May 11, 2015 11:56AM) (new)

Laura Gill | 162 comments Helen wrote: "Thanks, I just got an idea that I think I will go with. I'm waiting for a reply from a historian to see if there can be enough for me to build a whole story or not, I can't say anything else now, b..."

I think you'll know inside whether you have a story or not, and if you do I'd sit on the idea a while and let it percolate, like good coffee. When I was researching Knossos I wasn't expecting to write the novel I did. I thought I'd be tackling Theseus and Ariadne, but then I became fascinated by the archaeological site itself and all its many layers and long history, and thought there's a story here somewhere. Actually, there turned out to be TEN stories.

message 36: by C.P. (last edited May 13, 2015 03:51PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 717 comments Helen wrote: "C.P, Boys in the basement, that sounds intriguing, any tips on how to do that?"

Not really (although it sounds as if you solved your problem, and if you'd like input from a historian who writes novels, message me; the pros don't always get it, you know?). Try giving yourself permission to come up with something. It can get them going.

My big point was to trust your subconscious to throw up something, sooner or later. For me, it's usually an image. Some people hear characters talking (I know, we're all nuts at some level—what you gonna do?). Others see a setting. When it happens, follow it.

Writers write. It's what we do. Impossible to believe that you'll be without a story for long.

message 37: by Helen (new)

Helen Erwin | 133 comments Thanks CP. I´ll have to see if I can pull this idea off, it is a little different than my usual topics, it will be more of a fantasy plus history so it is a little harder than what I´m used to.
We´ll see. I´m usually not stuck like this, but we´ll see.

message 38: by Olivia "So many books--so little time."" (last edited May 13, 2015 07:21PM) (new)

Olivia "So many books--so little time."" | 118 comments My favorite historical period extends from the years after the Civil War to the years before WWII. That's American history. As for England I like the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

message 39: by Mary (new)

Mary Beth | 9 comments WWII is my favorite time and Japan Internment!!

message 40: by Helena (new)

Helena Schrader That depends on what period I'm writing about at the moment!

Mrs. Allen 107 (The Kansan Reader) (thekansanreader) I mostly love WWII. I love the action and if there can be romance even better. I also love 17th century Scotland.

message 42: by Mary (new)

Mary Beth | 9 comments My favorite time in history is 1930 1940 1945mary

message 43: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 472 comments C.P. wrote: "Helen wrote: "C.P, Boys in the basement, that sounds intriguing, any tips on how to do that?"

Not really (although it sounds as if you solved your problem, and if you'd like input from a historian..."

I love the phrase "boys in the basement". I kind of think of it as tigers trying to get out of a cage - ideas that take you places you wouldn't have thought of, that sort of appear out of nowhere. Tigers just don't give up!

message 44: by Edward (last edited Jun 04, 2015 11:17AM) (new)

Edward Farber (edfarber) | 4 comments Anybody interested in the 1890s in U.S. history? Historians tagged it the "Gay Nineties" (not so popular anymore with the current definition of gay) or the "Guilded Age." My new novel covers that decade, set in the entertainment and music world in New York's bawdy music halls and vaudeville theaters. I was so intrigued when doing research on the era that it led to the novel.
Elixir of the Incas

message 45: by Antiokhos (new)

Antiokhos (septimiusseverus) | 10 comments The Roman Third Century AD emperors being toppled by their own troops, sometimes after only a few months. Persian invasians, barbarian incursions. It has been dubbed the military anarchy

message 46: by Monica (new)

Monica | 107 comments I tend to prefer anything prior to the 19th century. I would LOVE to read a book about pre/non-colonial (even ancient Rome colonial) Africa that is not set in Egypt, with Africans as the main characters. I thinking about Timbuktu, Ethiopia, or anywhere. It is a huge continent that is largely ignored by HF authors. I'm not talking about the Zulu wars or wealthy Europeans going over to find themselves either. jmo.

message 47: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (mkc2192) I love books that take place at the turn of the century or stories (fiction and non fiction) of people that came through Ellis Island.

I also love books based around WWII. I've been reading a lot more of those lately.

message 48: by Ilene (new)

Ilene Harris (gahish) | 11 comments Catherine wrote: "I would go with WW1."

So would I.

message 49: by Larry (new)

Larry Zuckerman | 34 comments Count me in.

message 50: by Meg (new)

Meg Clayton (megwaiteclayton) | 5 comments Like Jamie and Melissa, I love WWII. But I'll take anything late 19th and 20th century. Basically anything post U.S. civil war.

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