I was having an interesting conversation the other day about historical fiction, and I was genuinely surprised when I was told by a friend that she didn't read it.
As a history nerd, I was SHOCKED. I blame my love of history on not have a television for a period as a child, which led to looking to alternate sources for stories. That, and a mother who loved history even though she failed it miserably at school. (Hi, Mum!) Because it occurred to me at a very early age that history, literally, is EVERY STORY IN THE WORLD EVER. And how is that not awesome?
But my friend told me that she finds it difficult to invest emotionally in historical fiction, since the protagonists -- had they lived -- would already be dead now. Which I can kind of understand, but also I can't. Because If I only stuck to stories that might be real and happening now, wouldn't that restrict me to contemporary, realistic fiction? And if I did that, wouldn't I be missing out on a lot of great fiction?
I love history, so I'm completely biased on the subject. I"m also currently writing another historical, so yeah, I've got a horse in this race.
I love when the world-building in historical fiction is vivid, and I love when the writer gets the details right. On the flip side, I HATE it when they get it wrong. I read an m/m historical recently where there was a very big Public Display of Affection, and it threw me out of the story straight away. Because no way, just no fucking way, would two men kiss and grope each other in public in the middle of the day in Victorian London. Just no.
You're writing history, not rewriting it. Just...just don't.
Of course if happened. The proof is all over Victorian Gentlemen in Love. But it happened in private, it happened underground, and these men must have lived in constant fear of discovery. Let's not diminish that by jemmying in PDAs that couldn't have happened.
Wow. That turned into a slight rant, didn't it? So let's get back to the point: Do you read historical fiction, or does it just not work for you? Whatever your answer, I'd love to know your reasons.