Why I Write Historical Fiction

I wrote my first novel in 7th grade.

That book would not win any awards today, but my 12-year-old self was obsessed. I loved writing it. I would hide away in my family’s bonus room, typing for hours at a time. In the end, I had a manuscript of over 200 pages. It was an adventure story about a teenage girl who sneaks aboard a conquistador’s ship in the 16th century, falls in love with her unofficial bodyguard, and watches a horrific war unfold in the so-called New World. It was called Fire & Ice, and it was my first foray into writing historical fiction.

Now here I am, 20-odd years later, writing the same type of story.

But I haven’t always written historical fiction. I spent years writing fantasy stories, feel-good dramas about everyday people, science fiction romances with alien wars — even, at one point, a psychological thriller. I also wrote (really bad) poems and (really fun) screenplays. But I kept coming back to historical fiction.

When I wrote that first book in 7th grade, I was trying to make sense of what I was reading in my history textbook. I wrote about the time periods and historical figures I was learning about, experiencing them through the lens of a girl who was much like myself. That is still how I approach history. I was a history major in college, and my favorite part of studying history was learning the stories of real people who lived in those times.

Currently, I’m writing a historical fantasy book set in the Viking era. Just like that first book I wrote, it features a strong female protagonist. Through writing this story, I’ve had an excuse to read several books on Viking history and learn more about the people who lived in that era. It’s fascinating, and my book gives me a lens to explore and share that history with others. And I can do it all through the eyes of interesting, driven female characters.

I may still go back and finish that sci-fi romance book someday… but for now, I am content writing historical fiction with a dash of magic and romance.

What are your favorite genres to read and/or write? Or do you like more than one?

Ashley

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