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Sarah Gristwood on historical fiction

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boswellbaxter
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Sarah Gristwood on historical fiction

Post by boswellbaxter » Thu September 8th, 2011, 4:12 pm

Per a link on the Historical Novel Society Yahoo group:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/book ... books.html
Susan Higginbotham
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Thu September 8th, 2011, 8:51 pm

Ilike my girly covers and girly plots.

I am soooooo tired of the argument that HF is female only(or mostly) and that the stuff is either female or male HF.

WHO CARES?

I've said it before and I'll say it AGAIN. No one says this about fantasy. NO ONE. And that is all about the guys.
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Post by SGM » Thu September 8th, 2011, 10:34 pm

Isn't this "surge" of historical fiction more a "resurgence"? I remember reading at some point in the 80s? that the thing about historical fiction was that it sold. I know there was a slump in sales of historical fiction for a while after that but it is only to be expected that such things should happen whilst other genres become more popular for a while.

HF comes in varied forms and styles anyway which appeal to different people. I like my HF to have a historical setting and a plot, others like HF in which the main protagonists were real people.

I know plenty of men who read historical fiction although I suspect they are more likely to read HF written by men but not exclusively so. I was introduced to HF as a child by my Dad who was a big fan of swashbucklers.

Stephen Fry is a big fan of Georgette Heyer.
Last edited by SGM on Thu September 8th, 2011, 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 9th, 2011, 12:08 am

HF can be as varied as the human race, which it covers. I'm with Divia on this one -- readers will find what they like, something for everyone.

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Post by Nefret » Fri September 9th, 2011, 12:34 am

Simply, I like history and I like fiction. Therefore, I read historical fiction for entertainment.
I mostly prefer reading about battles to reading romance. What does that make me?
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"
{Ensiferum}

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Post by annis » Fri September 9th, 2011, 2:19 am

Why "guilty" pleasure? I've read HF for as long as I can remember, and I've never felt any guilt over it. Is this another instance of equating HF with bodice-ripper style historical romance? Mind you, I've never felt any guilt over reading that either!

I agree that the pouting female cover is off-putting, in some cases not reflecting the nature of a novel at all, and most guys will just bypass any book with that style of cover. Clearly publishers are hoping to entice the large, established HR reading market into trying something with a bit more - well, history.

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Post by wendy » Fri September 9th, 2011, 12:57 pm

Gristwood makes some interesting points. Female writers of HF books do tend to get the pretty-girl-on-the-front cover where "The aesthetic result is ravishing – but it’s a book no man would buy." Even my pirate book (with more battles scenes than love scenes) got the same treatment.

A doctor friend told me he couldn't be seen reading my book because of the "romace-looking" cover - but when an all-male book club selected FIRE ON DARK WATER for their monthly choice they unanimously agreed it was their favorite read since they began eight years ago! Go figure.

Seems like marketing departments should bring out TWO versions of HF covers - one that would appeal to each gender.
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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Fri September 9th, 2011, 1:09 pm

[quote=""wendy""]Gristwood makes some interesting points. Female writers of HF books do tend to get the pretty-girl-on-the-front cover where "The aesthetic result is ravishing – but it’s a book no man would buy." Even my pirate book (with more battles scenes than love scenes) got the same treatment.

A doctor friend told me he couldn't be seen reading my book because of the "romace-looking" cover - but when an all-male book club selected FIRE ON DARK WATER for their monthly choice they unanimously agreed it was their favorite read since they began eight years ago! Go figure.

Seems like marketing departments should bring out TWO versions of HF covers - one that would appeal to each gender.[/quote]

That's a great idea Wendy, it could be an interesting experiment, although presumably it would more expensive for the publisher than just the one edition.

I'm not that keen on lots of battle scenes, although I don't mind them as part of the story (like in EC's Marshal books), and I'm pretty much the same with romance - fine if it's part of the story, but not just the story. ButI do agree that there is a big divide between the male/female covers.

I'm not sure about the guilty pleasure aspect though, it makes HF sound rather naff and as if the reader is embarrassed to admit to reading it.
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Post by LCW » Sat September 10th, 2011, 7:55 pm

Is it wrong that I get so annoyed when men think that reading "female" HF is beneath them? Anything that hints of being feminine seems to be something that men cannot be caught dead reading. IMO, that shows their own their own insecurities more than anything else.

I love reading about romance and relationships. Romance, love, and all the trappings that come with it are every bit as much a part of history as battles or politics. How different would the world be without the romantic aspect of the relationship between Eleanor and Henry? It is very much a valid subject to write and read about esp. when handled with care in the hands of a skilled writer.

K, end rant now :P !
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Post by annis » Sat September 10th, 2011, 8:06 pm

Well, to be fair, a lot of women won't touch anything that looks as if it it might be a male-orientated historical adventure either, and will automatically denigrate such novels. I personally will read anything and don't discriminate, but there's no getting away from the fact that men and women do quite often have different reading preferences, and that's okay :)
Last edited by annis on Sat September 10th, 2011, 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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