Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Currency of ‘Once Upon a Time’~

The Currency of ‘Once Upon a Time’~

 

Once Upon A Time is, at its core, a story about hope. – Edward Kitsis

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‘Once upon a time…’ How I used to thrill to that opening phrase as a child—heck, I still do! It signals the start of a story and the necessary suspension of disbelief to appreciate it fully. It also heralds the possibility of escape, and what imaginative youngster could resist that—heck again, there are few adults who can ignore the call, either. It’s why shows like Downton Abbey were just as popular with men as with women and why adults were lost in the addiction to Harry Potter right along with their children and grandchildren. What’s ‘beach reading’ if not escape? Where’s the value in Sci-Fi or adventure series like Tom Clancy’s books if not in the chance to live somewhere else for a while? Truly, that’s what novels are for. So much so that even biographies have come to mimic the novel’s design to help the reader slip into another’s skin. I note the power of books such as Ron Chernow’s Hamilton and Grant to convince the adult reader that they don’t know how ‘the ending’ will turn out. If that’s not suspension of disbelief, I don’t know what is!

Admitting I’ve always craved flights of fancy, I accept that many others do, too, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing historical fiction. But I also value the chance it gives us to see our own dilemmas through a broader lens, allowing us to observe the similarities between all humans no matter what their times. ‘Once Upon a Time’ is always about some other continuum. It’s irresistible. And although readers as well as writers understand the necessity of setting the scene, placing a story solidly in the ‘place’ of its happening, sometimes they ignore the importance of the time the story opens ‘once upon’. But as an author who’s chosen historical fiction as her passion (or did it choose me?), I can readily admit to a bias toward the voyeurism of watching other lives affected by a different human history and culture.

My first novel in this genre, Certain Liberties, is planned for publication late this year by Momentum Ink Press. Knowing the avalanche of technical challenges likely to rain down on the ‘team’ (editor, printer/designer and author), I’m reluctant to count on holding the book in my hands until 2019. That said, I appreciate the ‘history’ part of this novel in a new way, thanks to my editor. Even though it added so much more work, with tons of extra research, and facts that never got used, I found myself immersed in the period in a more complete way. I know that also helps the reader dive in as well, even if the editor didn’t let me use my research on the advent of the use of the paper bag for shopping. He felt the year was too close to my action and the use not yet commonly accepted. He’s a history buff with a blog specifically devoted to it, and doesn’t permit any wiggle room where the facts are concerned. Once in a long while, he’ll give me the benefit of a looser hand on the controls, but almost never.

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