Women in history: Balance between past and present

How can we make women of the past relatable to the modern-day reader in fiction? On Sunday February 6, 2022, Mary (M.K. Tod) and I discuss this very issue in our session Women in History at the The History Quill’s Writers Convention 2022. You can access and download our presentation right here:

We discuss the seven elements of historical fiction – characters, dialogue, setting, conflict, plot, world-building, theme – and how they can be used to balance accuracy and reality with making the book accessible to the contemporary reader.

This is something I very much have tried to do in my newest novel (coming soon!). My setting is 1509 Venice, when at least patrician women had little to no freedom, your path – marriage or monastery – was set by your father, and you accepted your journey in life as a way to strengthen the Venetian state. How can readers now relate to such a very different mindset? By making the characters and their thoughts and feelings very real. My characters attend parties, bicker with their siblings, gossip, and stumble their way through life – just like we do today. Or at least that is my aim and hope!

I can’t wait until the book is in your hands for you to see for yourself.

I’m very grateful to Mary (M.K.) Tod for agreeing to do this presentation with me. I really enjoyed getting to know her and learning from her too. I encourage you to explore her blog, A Writer of History, and her many wonderful books (I reviewed Paris in Ruins last year).

Image credit: Smithsonian

Who does this balance especially well? Recommended reading

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

Women of Chateau Lafayette – Stephanie Dray

America’s First Daughter – Stephanie Drat

The Summer Queen – Elizabeth Chadwick

The Book of Longings – Sue Monk Kidd

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See

The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea

The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory

The Birth House – Ami McKay

The Rose Code – Kate Quinn

Band of Sisters – Lauren Willig

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier

Pope Joan – Donna Woolfolk Cross

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