Evangeline Holland

Sweeping Drama ⚜ Larger than Life History ⚜ Exquisite Romance ⚜ Diverse Perspectives
February 22nd, 2014

Coming Soon: the Modern Belles of History!

I’m not good with reaching out to people–I’m utterly convinced response will be “Who are you again?” O__o–but I had an idea I couldn’t shake: a group blog made up of authors who write novels set in the early 20th century.

The setting can be tough to sell to readers since WWII or the 1920s weren’t considered “historical” to many readers: they or their parents lived through those eras so it was intimately familiar enough to not sweep them away the way Regencies or Tudors or Revolutionary War do. And for the most part, we all grew up on 20th century history, whether it be through old films or the homework our teachers and professors assigned in history class–which also makes it difficult to see anything glamorous or romantic in the recent past.

Yet, this challenge fired me up, and it fires up the group of amazing authors I’ve gathered to blog about writing modern historical fiction:

Melissa March
Alison Atlee
Teri Brown (aka T.J. Brown)
Piper Huguley
Rachel Muller
Rebecca Paula
Cate Campbell
Julie Steele
Virginia Carmichael (aka Mary Jane Hathaway)

Bookmark our website for future reference, sign up for the RSS feed, and follow us on Twitter so you can know when the site officially hangs its shingle.

October 2nd, 2013

Ghosts of WWI

A soldier frying food in a large frying pan over a brazier made of a tin drum with holes cut in it. When supplies were sufficient, charcoal was used for these small braziers as it gives a good heat, without much smoke.

A soldier frying food in a large frying pan over a brazier made of a tin drum with holes cut in it. When supplies were sufficient, charcoal was used for these small braziers as it gives a good heat, without much smoke.

My bedroom and desk are both strewn with numerous books, the bookmarks section of my Firefox browser is full with links, and my hard drive is stuffed with primary sources and maps–all on the First World War. WWI was a blip on my radar, even when I began blogging at Edwardian Promenade. My history classes during my K-12 years skipped from the Civil War to Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points and The League of Nations and then to the rest of the twentieth century, with nary a pause for breath to delve into the war.

In America, “The War” is either the Civil War or World War Two, with the American Revolution trailing a bit behind. The burial of World War One in our basic history is rather odd. Even though we didn’t enter until 1917, all four years of war affected American society. Not only did our 1920s prosperity have its roots in increased wartime production, European nations owing us substantial debts, etc, but returning veterans had just as much they wanted to forget in booze and parties as post-war Britain and Europe.

Downton Abbey’s second series pushed me into WWI history. If I was to provide historical context for the upcoming series, I had to know more about it than the events leading up to it and the end result (Germany’s loss, fall of empires, et al).

My perception of the war has been shaped by popular imagery of senseless carnage, futile battles, and “lions led by donkeys,”–and the rows of gleaming white headstones across the quiet, manicured fields of Flanders and Northern France appeared to attest to this truth.

I also suppose this is why many historical romance readers are hesitant to read Edwardian-set novels: the possibility that the hero and heroine who got their HEA in 1906 would be parted by his death between 1914 and 1918. The intrusion of this reality also caused me to hesitate until I became gripped by the variances of WWI history.

At this moment, over two years after delving into the four years of violence, hope, courage, death, love, and loss, the First World War haunts me.

November 26th, 2012

“New Adult” Historical Fiction

I’d gotten into a research rut with my NaNoWriMo novel, Till We Meet Again, and set it aside for a few days to clear my brain of my anxieties over getting the WWI setting right. In the interim, I began a historical romance that came to me out of the blue–just the beginning scribbles, of course, since I need time to let this percolate in my brain–which was a bit of a palate cleanser. When I picked up my WIP last night, I felt refreshed and ready to tackle it again. Funnily enough, I realized that what I was writing could be classified as “New Adult” because my characters are coming-of-age over the course of the book. Angela James’s definition on the Carina Press blog solidified my suspicions:

We are looking for submissions with a strong story and fully developed, very definable protagonists, 18 and above (or at an age eligible to enter college), in their early to mid-20s. While at least one protagonist should fall in this age range, it is possible the other protagonist may fall in their upper 20s.
Story elements should be targeted to an adult, not teen audience, and should contain adult contemporary themes, frank, modern language, high relationship drama and intense conflict.

And according to Wikipedia:

The chief features that distinguish this category from Young-adult fiction are the perspective of the young antagonist and the scope of the antagonist’s life experience. Perspective is gained as childhood innocence fades and life experience is gained, which brings insight. It is this insight which is lacking in traditional young-adult fiction.

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of the “New Adult” novel for a few months because I am still in my twenties, with all of the angst and drama that comes with it, LOL. I avoided reading contemporary romances for a long time because I couldn’t relate to heroines who had their stuff together (financially, education-wise, etc) when many of my old high school friends are still in college, or are entering college after working for a few years because they didn’t know what to do. And I think the downturn in the economy, which has forced a lot of people my age back into their parents’ homes for lack of steady and lucrative employment, also plays a large part in the so-called delay of “adulthood” (why do marriage and children equal adulthood anyways?). So it’s interesting that there’s a sharp interest in characters living in that transitional stage of not-teen but not-adult at this very moment in time.

But back to my avoidance of contemporary romance. That has changed quite a bit this year (due to my enjoyment of Fifty Shades of Grey, haha!), but I’m still rather on the fence about actually writing contemporaries because that would require rewiring the plotting side of my brain. Not to say I’ll never try, but at the moment, my focus is on historical fiction and historical romance. Since the “New Adult” genre is still new and is shaped one book at a time, the concept of the New Adult historical will be as well.

Thus far, the elements I identify in my WIP are:

1) Young protagonists–my hero is 21 and my heroine is 18 when the book begins
2) High-stakes drama–my H/H deal with issues of class, sex, family responsibility, gender roles, death, etc
3) Personal growth outside of the romantic relationship–my h/h spend a significant time apart on the page
4) Time lapses–no getting the HEA within a few months; this book takes place over the course of five years
5) The shedding of youthful innocence–it’s set during WWI, where young men and women were forced to grow up fast

Whether this genre will stick remains to be seen, but I rather like what it means for novels with characters between the ages of 18 and 30. Plus, with New Adult Historical Fiction, it straddles the agendas of YA Historical Fiction (usually to teach history to young readers) and straight Historical Fiction (readers of which tend to be sticklers for historical fact), which means I’m not overly tied to keeping everything 100% accurate and filled with real life people.