Festival of Writing 2014 Part the Third: Historical Fiction Genre Panel
This panel consisted of Emma Darwin, Sophie Orme, Andrew Wille and Jamie Coleman who answered our questions. Here is what we talked about.
1) Timeslip is a popular genre with authors like Kate Mosse being very successful with readers.
2) Novels set at a time of British history are easier to sell as people would have learned about them at school (Romans, Tudors, World War Two, etc.) If there is no connection with a time or place then people are less likely to read the book.
3) The best word counts for debut authors is no more than 100,000 words. There are no real rules, however, as long as it’s good. Anything that’s not needed can be cut out and possibly used for something else.
4) How short should work be? Digital publishing has allowed writers to experiment and more novellas are being published as a result. Longer works allow for immersion but it’s all down to the reader’s taste. Historical short stories are very difficult to write as they do not allow for this immersion (I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks that!)
5) How accurate should real life be described? The basic answer to this was the details of a place or event should be as accurate as possible while characters allow for a little bit more artistic license.
6) Dialogue can’t be filled with modern phrases as it ruins the authenticity of the work but it can’t be too much the other way as the reader may not understand what is being said.
7) Although it’s not possible to defame the dead, families could get offended and kick up a fuss, particularly if the relative is still in living memory.
This was very good and insightful and was interesting to hear the perspectives from an author, an agent, an editor and a publisher.