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Is my MG Historical?

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Hi guys. I'm debating how to categorize my Middle Grade Fantasy.

It's about a boy from the present who's whisked away to the past (1826) by an old relic. 90% of the story takes place aboard a ship. There are sea monster and the undead, and fantastical powers, so it's fantasy.

Now, my pickle is if it counts as "historical fantasy". The only sci-fi element is the time travel, so I feel comfortable omitting that from the description. However, is it historical? There are two historical figures who appear (granted, one is a zombie) and another legendary figure.

So, can it be historical fantasy if it doesn't take place during a particular historical period? Or is it historical purely because it takes place in the past? But my MC is a present-day boy. Should it be considered sci-fi if the only thing about it being sci-fi is the time travel? Think of it as Outlander, where Claire touches the stones and travels back to the past.

You can find the pitch here if you need further information about the plot: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=80430.0

Thanks for your advice.
#1 - April 28, 2016, 08:14 AM

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I'd call it historical fantasy because time-travel fits with the SFF genre.
Good luck, Vijaya
#2 - April 28, 2016, 08:36 AM
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It mixes genres but I'd call it historical fantasy. The query itself will be specific enough that the reader will figure out that there's a time-travel element, etc.

Sounds fun, BTW.
#3 - April 28, 2016, 08:41 AM
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Fabulist
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Thank you Vijaya and Kell for your insight and super fast responses. I don't know why I'm doubting myself so much. I suppose because I've never written historical, and also because of the time-travel element. Yes, I think the time travel element t threw me off the most. I always assumed historical mean the story takes place in the past ABOUT the past. I'll continue to use "historical fantasy." Thanks so much!
#4 - April 28, 2016, 08:52 AM

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You could call it a genre mashup, too. Some people like genre mashups--but you're right, you do want to give them some idea what genres you're mashing.
 :goodluck
#5 - April 28, 2016, 10:01 AM
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I'd probably call it a historical fantasy if it's rooted in a real time and place. I think that fantasy often implies a made up world.

Sounds like a great story!
#6 - April 28, 2016, 10:14 AM

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Thanks guys for the insight, and also for the compliments.

I always had a hard time telling the difference between magical realism and fantasy. I'm under the impression that magical realism is magic that takes place in the real world while fantasy takes place in a made-up world.

In my last manuscript, I pitched one agent with my manuscript about stage magicians who turn out to have real magic. Told her it was magical realism and she told me that it sounded like fantasy. I can never get a straight answer.

So is my story even considered a fantasy?
#7 - April 28, 2016, 10:33 AM

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Magical realism is a *bit* of magic in a real world. One magical element, in an otherwise non-magic tale. MG examples would be Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin or When the Butterflies Came by KG Little. In fact, here is a blog post by KGL about magical realism, and it talks about how time travel fits in and also how magical realism might be mislabeled as fantasy. From what you say about your last ms., I agree with the agent that it sounds like fantasy. There's "too much magic" to make it sound like magical realism, if that makes sense.
#8 - April 28, 2016, 11:17 AM
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What Marcia said. Also, time travel does not necessarily equal science fiction. If there's a "scientific" reason for the time travel (a time machine or whatever) then yes, that could be science fiction. But plenty of time travel stories don't have that, which leaves them firmly in the fantasy camp.
#9 - April 28, 2016, 11:35 AM
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Marcia- Thank you for clearing that up for me. I'll look up KG little's blog post!

Marissa- You blew my mind! I hadn't thought about that! It makes so much sense.
#10 - April 28, 2016, 11:38 AM

Yeah, I wouldn't call <the Davy Jones story, right?> 'historical' fantasy anymore than I'd call Pirates of the Caribbean historical. Even if you use specifics about that year, once you add the sea monsters and undead it's just 'fantasy' to me.

Plus magic that takes place in the real world (i.e. today) is sometimes called contemporary fantasy, just to add another phrase.
#11 - April 28, 2016, 12:58 PM

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Yeah, I wouldn't call <the Davy Jones story, right?> 'historical' fantasy anymore than I'd call Pirates of the Caribbean historical. Even if you use specifics about that year, once you add the sea monsters and undead it's just 'fantasy' to me.

Plus magic that takes place in the real world (i.e. today) is sometimes called contemporary fantasy, just to add another phrase.

So I shouldn't call it "historical" fantasy?   :badidea

Now I'm confused because that sort of makes sense.
#12 - April 28, 2016, 01:11 PM

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Well, you could just call it a time travel story, which kind of covers everything.

But I write stories set in the real world historical past (with historical events and people) with magic added in, and I call it historical fantasy. There are so many flavors of fantasy out there that it helps to add the quantifier (e.g. historical, urban, contemporary, epic, etc.) to differentiate.
#13 - April 28, 2016, 02:03 PM
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In fact, here is a blog post by KGL about magical realism

It would be nice if I'd remembered the link, wouldn't it?  :duh  :lol4

http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2014/03/23183/
#14 - April 28, 2016, 02:13 PM
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To me, "historical fiction" implies a story set in the realistic past -- these things could have really happened. "Historical fantasy" implies a story set in the fantastical past -- these things never could have really happened because of magic and creatures in the world. You are good with the latter description IMO.
#15 - April 28, 2016, 07:37 PM
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