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Genres & Age Categories => Historical Fiction => Topic started by: Marissa Doyle on May 14, 2012, 04:24 PM

Title: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: Marissa Doyle on May 14, 2012, 04:24 PM
It's not directly kid-lit related, but definitely interesting for writers of historical fiction for any age:
http://manbooker.co.uk/perspective/articles/1594  (http://manbooker.co.uk/perspective/articles/1594)
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: austen on May 14, 2012, 05:37 PM
Thanks for posting this, Marissa!  :)
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: rab on May 14, 2012, 06:16 PM
Thanks for posting, Marissa. Very interesting. I particularly like this line: "Make a virtue of the constraints of the facts, or write some other form of fiction." (Now, if only I'd done that!)
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: Susan on May 15, 2012, 07:58 AM
I particularly like this line: "Make a virtue of the constraints of the facts, or write some other form of fiction." (Now, if only I'd done that!)

Done which, rab?  :)

Off to read the article now. Thanks for posting the link, Marissa.
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: CyndyHenzel on May 16, 2012, 08:51 AM
Thanks for this! I'm tired of hearing, 'Why doesn't she just stand up for herself!" Same reason you wouldn't pee on the corner of your boss' desk. It is not culturally acceptable - although possible that someone has done it, most likely your character won't.
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: Grady Hendrix on May 19, 2012, 07:49 AM
I just wanted to chime in and second Hilary Mantel (not that it needs seconding) on True Grit. It really is THE great American novel, and I've always wondered why it wasn't assigned high school reading. A truly remarkable, fast-paced book with one of the best first person narrators in American fiction. I'm always surprised that a book this good, with a female protagonist, isn't on every single high school reading list. You'd think it would be catnip for English teachers and high school students.
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: AuntyBooks on May 19, 2012, 02:43 PM
I just wanted to chime in and second Hilary Mantel (not that it needs seconding) on True Grit. It really is THE great American novel, and I've always wondered why it wasn't assigned high school reading. A truly remarkable, fast-paced book with one of the best first person narrators in American fiction. I'm always surprised that a book this good, with a female protagonist, isn't on every single high school reading list. You'd think it would be catnip for English teachers and high school students.

It was on high school reading lists--until the movie came out in 1969. That killed the book.

eab

Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: Elisabeth on May 21, 2012, 05:33 AM
Great link! Thanks for posting that. I particularly like:

Quote
Learn to tolerate strange world views. Don’t pervert the values of the past. Women in former eras were downtrodden and frequently assented to it. Generally speaking, our ancestors were not tolerant, liberal or democratic. Your characters probably did not read The Guardian, and very likely believed in hellfire, beating children and hanging malefactors. Can you live with that?

Don’t rearrange history to suit your plot. Make a virtue of the constraints of the facts, or write some other form of fiction.

(bolding mine)

I'm so tired of reading about plucky-even-by-21st-century-standards women in Regency England...  :groan

If I'm reading about another era, I want to experience a story that reflects that era as it was*, not a modern tale that happens to have characters in costume and a castle setting. And then there's the fact that if modern books were to be believed, England has more Dukes than you can throw a stick at, but that's a mini-rant for another day  :laugh

*now, for alternate history, magical realism, etc. that's a completely different animal. But for those writing a story with a "straight" historical setting .... see above
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: Marissa Doyle on May 21, 2012, 08:14 AM
LOL, El!  It is amazing how many dukes there are in Regency Romance land!

The challenge in writing female characters is walking the line between keeping them true to their era, while also making them sympathetic and relateable to a 21st century reader who isn't very well-versed in history.  It's not an easy task!  In one of my books, my heroine had to disguise herself as a boy...but instead of reveling in the freedom of trousers after all her heavy petticoats, she was mortified and had a very hard time of it, and had to be reminded not to walk like a girl.  :)  It felt like a fair compromise to me.
Title: Re: Hilary Mantel on writing historical fiction
Post by: Elisabeth on May 21, 2012, 10:50 AM
You are so right Marissa! I'm trying to find that line as well in one of my current projects. How to make her relatable to a modern readership, but preserve (to a greater rather than lesser degree) the realities of the time.

I guess you could tell there's been an overabundance of dukes in my reading lately  :laugh. Makes me feel sorry for all the poor earls and viscounts out there ...