Take a look at these resources for a historical fiction author suggested by Author Elizabeth Pye. Since authors of historical fiction are not cast from the same mold. reading historical fiction novels never gets old.
If you ask ten authors what books they prefer to read, you’ll get ten different answers. Research, research, research. But then give yourself permission to write in ways that work best for you.
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“Historical novels that are part of a series carry me along in the history of the period of which they are written. And I especially enjoy these type of novels in the following list of books and series.” –Elizabeth Pye
Six Books/Series for Research
Pye read the books and series in this list for researching The French Connection historical novels:
- Jean-Francois Parot wrote Nicholas Le Floch Investigation mystery novels that are set in the period leading up to the time of the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century. Many of these mysteries were translated into English (at least six of them).
- Claude Izner wrote The Victor Legris Mysteries series, set in Paris in the late nineteenth century. The series takes the reader from the Legris’ bookstore along the Seine to various locations in the city.
- Author Cara Black wrote the Aimee Leduc Investigation series is set in Paris in the 1990s with each story set in various quarters of the city. Black lives in San Francisco, and she travels frequently to France.
- Susanna Kearsley wrote Seasons of Storms, a historical novel. Kearsley is a New York Times best-selling author.
- Lucinda Riley, an internationally best-selling author who lives in England and France, wrote The Lavender Garden. Riley chose France in the late 1990s as the setting.
- Catherine Delors wrote Mistress of the Revolution, a story about the turbulent time of the French Revolution. Delors, an attorney with an international practice, also wrote For the King. The author chose Paris in 1800 during the time of First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule as the setting.
Besides reading books by other authors in your genre, consider the following research lists of ideas.
Important Things Historical Novelists Need to Know
Research these seven important things for your novel:
- Historical events
- Everyday life
- Historical period
- Historical details
- Historical setting
- Social condition, social norms, etc.
- Real historical figures
Reading To-Do List for Writers of Historical Fiction
- Join an internet archive program to research specific details about historical characters you want to include in your novel.
- Read history books, and learn the historical facts about your novel’s era.
- Visit public libraries in your local area as well as your setting location.
- Discover details on true events from popular books written during the specific time of your book’s setting.
- Peruse old maps of the city, state, and country of your setting.
Seven Tips for Authentic Settings: Historical Fiction Genre
Look at these seven tips for authentic settings which will help you enhance the reader’s experience. What will readers feel when they read your novel?
- Have you visited the actual area where your story takes place, or have you virtually researched the place carefully?
- In what ways does your setting feel like a real place?
- How well do you know your cast of characters?
- When you think of each character, what is your reaction?
- What are the motives of your characters?
- Did you give your characters personality traits by utilizing the five senses?
- Have you chosen multiple readers to proofread your novel? The reason why it’s good to choose more than one proofreader is because even the best book editor or proofreader can overlook an error. Therefore, it’s good to find several good proofreaders to read your novel before the final publication.
Writing About a Different Time Period
When writing about a different time period, pay close attention to the small details of daily life during the particular era. Moreover, become knowledgeable about real events that took place for the sake of historical accuracy.
Importantly, pique your readers’ interest. And as has been mentioned already, writers accomplish that task by doing much research. Hence, read the best books, and choose the best resources.
More Historical Fiction Tips by Author Elizabeth Pye
Are you interested in reading more tips on how to write historical fiction? If so, take a look at additional articles by Author Pye as shown below:
Author Pye’s Favorite Resources for Writing Historical Fiction
Author Pye discusses books she read during the research process of her writing career.
“I like to read historical fiction. And when I’m writing about France, I am very selective. I read about France, but I love English history and Scotland and any historical novel.”
Pye, who loves books about architecture and old homes, says: “I enjoy mysteries of any kind, poetry books, and I study to improve my poetry.”
Since authors of historical fiction are also readers of historical fiction, Pye shares a little bit of her own favorite authors.
Asked if there any particular authors that are her favorites, she replies, “Oh, yes. Susanna Kearsley is one of my very favorites. And then there is another author that writes about a detective in Paris, and I really like her very much.”
Pye says there are 75 books in Georges Simenon’s Maigret series. Additionally, the books were made into a television series several different times. And she likes reading all of those. “There were tons of those about a French detective in Paris,” she adds.
Margaret Truman Mysteries
In regard to the type of books Author Pye prefers, she remembers “reading the mysteries written by Margaret Truman.” But she especially liked the one about the cathedral in Washington D.C.
“I go through these periods of I find an author I like, buy every book I can of theirs and have a stack to catch up on and read. But I sort of read that way and get fixated on a particular one. Then I exhaust them and their writings.” — Elizabeth Pye
Pye adds, “I am quite familiar with many of the great houses in Ireland, England, Scotland.
‘There’s a series of books about The Great Houses Of France, and I incorporate things from those into my stories. That’s what makes stories interesting.”
My Interview – “Books Elizabeth Reads”:
Elizabeth Pye’s video about books she reads
This recorded video took place on a beautiful sunny Southern California day in Elizabeth’s lovely garden-style courtyard.
Interviewer and author, Angie Horn, blogs at kitchenhospitality.com, and you can also find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/angiewriter/.
Books and Resources for Writing Historical Fiction
As a writer of historical fiction, Pye reads about that particular genre for research. And though The French Connection novels focus mostly on France, the citrus era in Southern California insterests her. For instance, she thought of “writing about the old Spanish style houses and the groves.”
‘Some of the Spanish or Mission style homes were just beautiful in the 1920s and ‘30s, and I’d like to write about that,” she states in the interview.
Many history buffs like reading military history. However, not all history buffs, like Pye, care about the gory details or battles.
‘I am so interested in the World War One and World War Two era. I’ve collected books that are stacked up to be read that are about that period. I don’t want to go into all the gory details, so I’m not going to describe all the battles that the men were in.”
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If you are interested in seeing more from me on writing historical fiction, see the video “Why Do Authors Write Historical Novels?” on this site.