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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM G.S. WILEY
What does Historical Fiction mean to you?
Good morning! (Or afternoon, or evening.) I’m G.S. Wiley, and I’m excited to be a part of the Speak Its Name advent calendar for the first time this year. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts so far, and I’m sure you have as well. Today, I thought I’d take the discussion in a bit of a different direction and ask, what does the label “historical fiction” mean to you?
The ever-helpful (well, sometimes helpful) Wikipedia defines historical fiction as “a story that is set in the past.” But what does that mean? A thousand years ago? The 1940s? Last year? I’ve written and read stories set everywhere from the prehistoric age (anyone else remember a youth secretly misspent absconding with their mother’s Jean M. Auel books?) to the early 21st-century, all of which could be classified as historical fiction. What do you think? As a lover of historical fiction, does a book or short story have to have frock coats or togas or loincloths for you to be attracted to it, or would you be just as willing to pick up a story in which the protagonists wear platform shoes or Members Only jackets? Is there a watershed date that qualifies a book as historical for you? What about stories written in the past? When it comes to “historical” fiction and holidays, the obvious choice is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” I can’t think of a more classic Victorian Christmas story, but of course, when Dickens wrote it, it was contemporary. Does it still qualify as historical fiction, or is it merely an old story?
The holiday of greatest historical significance most of us remember (probably…it depends on how hard we celebrated) is New Year’s Eve 1999. I spent the day watching televised celebrations from around the world. At night, I went to a party wearing a special commemorative hat cut out of the newspaper (remember those?) I wore it ironically, of course, since I was a know-it-all nineteen year old at the time, but I admit I still have it. In 2008, I commemorated the Millennial New Year’s experience in a short story, “Millennium” about an Australian Olympic gymnast, besieged by injury, spending the Millennial New Year’s Eve worrying about getting into shape for the Sydney Olympics and dealing with his long-distance relationship with a mining engineer in Kalgoorlie. Sadly, the story is now out of print, but I’m hoping to soon make it available for free.
As for me, I think any story set at a defined date in the past qualifies as historical fiction, whether that means characters dancing to phonograph records or first-generation iPods, whether the story was written and set in the 1880s or whether it was written in 2012 and set in 2006. To me, the label is less important than the story itself. I’ll read just about anything, if the story is compelling enough. I also write stories in a variety of genres, and as my Advent prize I’m offering an ebook of choice off my backlist (including stories currently out of print) to one lucky winner, who will be selected at random from the comments on this post. If the winner is patient, she or he can choose to wait for my newest release, “Crocodile Kev’s Merry-Go-Round,” due out from MLR Press at the end of January as part of their Australia Day celebrations.
Thank you for spending a little time with me today. Happy holidays to you and your families!
G.S. Wiley lives in Canada with her husband and daughter. More information about her published works can be found at www.gswiley.com, along with a collection of free stories. Two of these stories are Christmas-themed, “The Weary World Rejoices” and “Khaki Christmas” and both fit neatly into the historical category.
Advent Calendar Giveaway!
As G.S says above the giveaway prize is an ebook of the choice of the winner from the back catalogue! Good luck!
The BONUS BUMPER PRIZE QUESTION (don’t answer this – just save them up for Christmas Eve.)
17. What festive word does this represent?