Historical Novels Review
The Historical Novels Review is a quarterly publication you receive when you subscribe to the Historical Novel Society. Since historical fiction is one of the genres I edit (and write), I decided it was time to sign up.
As a member, you have the ability to add your own directory entry. Even if you’re not published yet. You can also add an entry if you’re a blogger or reviewer, etc.
The society’s website features many book reviews and articles, as well as ‘What’s on’ news.
If you want to check out the reviews you can click here.
If you want to check out features and articles you can click here.
The August 2023 edition of the magazine has 62 pages, including the back cover. The cover is glossy, with smooth inner paper on the interior. The text of the articles and reviews inside might be a little small for some readers. However, articles are also available online.
Writing alternative history
One interesting article is All Possible Worlds: CJ Carey and the “What If” of Alternative History by Douglas Kemp. CJ Carey is the writing name of Jane Thynne. Her novels Queen High and Widowland are predicated on Germany winning WWII, with the UK under occupation. It’s now the 1950s and the main character, Rose Ransom, is working both for the occupiers and the resistance.
Through his article Douglas Kemp explores not just the world of Carey’s novels, but the differences between normal historical fiction and alternative history. While the former requires more attention to facts, the latter might create new timelines, yet there still needs to be internal consistency. The alternative world still needs to make sense and retain its own credibility.
Ageism against new older female authors
In another article, Kathleen Jones writes about the ageism women authors face from agents and editors, particularly in relation to debut novelists. The article was triggered by an event held during the recent Historical Novel Society Conference. A member of the audience asked a panel member if age was a barrier to an agent taking on an author over fifty. The literary agent on the panel admitted that editors will check out authors online, even if their age isn’t revealed by the agent, and that age can be a barrier.
This naturally outraged many older women present and the topic would come up among them over the course of the rest of the conference.
Of course women face particular barriers when it comes to an earlier debut. In addition to other careers, they are often carers to children, or elderly relatives.
The article goes on to point out the number of older women recently shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
As Kathleen Jones says in her article, there are advantages as well as disadvantages to being an older debuting author – such as more life experience. Jones believes things are looking up in the publishing industry. Certainly, when most of the reading market consists of women over 45, those same readers should be able to find more new voices from their own generation.
If you want to read the article you can click here.
You can check out the society website here. You’ll find other articles, as well as reviews, the society’s Facebook group info, local groups and events.
Check out some IndieCat reviews of historical novels
And you can also check out my review of one of my all-time favourite historical novels, A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel here.
I’ve also written about Joan Lindsay and her novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, also an historical novel published when the author was in her seventies.
I also looked at some of the developmental choices Diana Gabaldon made in the first Outlander novel.