10 comments

  1. Susan Bryant Myers

    if the book is over 25 years old, yes but older is better

  2. No, because history books are written by PEOPLE, who have their own pre-conceived ideas and prejudices, whether or not they recognize them. Con-
    temporary accounts are best, although it is generally believed that Capt. John
    Smith used “poetic license” in the account of his personal experiences in the
    Virginia Colony. Oral history is also questionable, especially stories involving
    “two brothers” and “Indian princesses”, some of which belong in the category
    of urban myths. I think your phrase “historical fiction” is correct. It uses real
    people and “fleshes” them out, based on the likelihood of events based on
    legal records, socio-economic status, and the time and place in which they lived. It is one of my favorite reading categories.

  3. I agree that history is interpretation and analysis – of the facts that can be found. And of course lots of stuff is left out because it is mundane and wouldn’t interest most readers. And is not germane to the story.
    I have no problem with you being a historical novelist!
    But if you think historians write only dull stuff because they have done exhaustive research and footnoted and cited their sources – I highly recommend ‘Washington’s Crossing’ or ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’ by David Hackett Fisher or ‘The Crucible of War’ by Fred Anderson or Jill Lepore’s ‘The Name of War’ or ‘Scratch of a Pen’ by Colin Calloway or – closer to Alabama, our Univ of South AL’s Greg Waselkov’s ‘A Conquering Spirit’ (Fort Mims and the Creek Indians). You will enjoy learning US history that is easy to read, easy to enjoy and easy to remember!
    And then there is ‘Creekside – An Archaeological Novel’ by Kelli Carmean – who presents scientific archaeological excavations at a early Ky settler’s house and relates the artifacts back to telling the story of the original homesteaders moving into Indian territory – and the following generations.

  4. Deborah O

    Look at copyright dates. Late 50s and later are suspect to me unless I know the author is reputable.

  5. This is a fascinating topic. Thanks for writing the post. I hope that I can add to the discussion.

    I believe that many perceive history to be boring, but I don’t buy the “fact” that all history is dull. I will say that one has to diligently dig through the mundane to find the more interesting material. It’s possible to be completely factual and interesting at the same time, but there has to be a balance between the two. That’s where the author’s creative writing skills as a historical wordsmith come into play.

    The decision of what to keep, or what to leave out, is simply part of the process. If the mundane adds depth to the historical topic, it’s always best to use it. For instance, technical information about a railroad should be included along with the colorful lives of those who built it.

    As for being factual, I’ve found that it’s extremely important to use original sources instead of using regurgitated information that has been handed down from generation to generation. I always prefer using firsthand anecdotes opposed to using historical repetition, which gets misconstrued over time. Original sources are better for this reason.

    These firsthand sources can also conflict with each other such as Gen. Thomas S. Woodward’s The American Old West: Woodward’s Reminisces being a rebuttal to Pickett’s History of Alabama by Albert James Pickett. By the way, Pickett’s history is accepted historical cannon by most academics. I’ve found it interesting to use opposing viewpoints to give a broad detailed glimpse into the past.

    I’ve written for many publications and I’m currently finishing up a new book about Tuscaloosa’s trolleys. Here’s a popular blog post that I wrote a few years ago. http://www.tuscaloosatrolleys.com/southern-fried-stories/-discovered-long-lost-photo-of-the-washington-hotel

    I’m also the admin for:
    http://www.facebook.com/tuscaloosatrolleys
    http://www.facebook.com/JDTownsend

  6. History is written by the victors. Each of us can see the same thing happen and most of the time the people involved report what happened differently. Everything ,including history, is by perspective, in the eye of the beholder. I feel that the title, historical fiction is appropriate for the books you write. You write fiction with historical facts. I wish I could write so well. Thankyou for the writing you do. History is wonderful and magical and more acceptable and interesting when turned into something we can live vicariously through.

  7. Perfect topic! Where can I find references for the posts on alabamapioneers? Thanks!

    1. Most references are included at the bottom of the page or along with the headline. Thanks for the question.

  8. Price Pass

    History books are written by humans & like various versions of the bible are interpretations.

  9. Jason Saxton

    Not always true and some are probably outright lies. Take it for what’s it worth.

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