Historical Fiction or Historical Novel?

Kathy Sharp

All my books have been set in the eighteenth century, really. The first three were in a fantasy version – the Larus Series – but having found them difficult to promote, being untypical fantasy, I thought the obvious thing to do would be to move on to historical fiction and that is what I did.

So here I am, with my first historical fiction title scheduled for release this December. Wonderful. I loved writing the book; I enjoyed the research; it all went awfully well. Spiffing stuff. Then I began taking an interest (probably a little too late) in the historical fiction genre, and discovered a whole new can of worms, as they say.

To begin with, I find I’m unsure whether I’ve written historical fiction or a historical novel. A toe-curling admission, no? There seem to be boundaries, but no-one seems entirely sure what they are, least of all…

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About kathysharp2013

Kathy Sharp lives by the sea in Dorset. She is a prolific writer of song lyrics and short fiction, and is the author of the Larus Trilogy of novels, inspired by the dramatic scenery of the Jurassic Coast. Published by Crooked Cat Publishing
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One Response to Historical Fiction or Historical Novel?

  1. Nancy Jardine says:

    This is such a tricky question to answer and one I’ve asked myself of my own work, Kathy. I also haven’t really found the right answer. What I’ve done in my Celtic Fervour Series is attempt to fictionalise a time period that’s essentially pre-historic in that very little was written about northern Roman Britain in the first century A.D. My choice to write about a fictional clan and not a known king, queen or notable personage of the era means my work isn’t considered to be historical fiction by some of the purists who read and write historical fiction about known figures. The fact that I may mention known Roman Generals of Britannia of the era, and even have some as minor characters, still isn’t enough for those who believe that it’s only historical fiction if the main protagonist/s is/are (a) known and recorded historical figure/s. Since I aim for as accurate a description and interpretation of the era as possible I would say my work definitely fits the historical novel category which seems to be a more loose term for setting fictional characters in a ‘known’ setting. I also include romantic elements to varying degrees but my novels aren’t historical romance because for that ‘it appears that’ you need to centre the whole plot around the developing romance.
    I bet all that hasn’t helped you one bit but if you get a definitive answer, please share!

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