Tuesday 23 May 2023

 #HistFicMay - What's that about?

I came across the hashtag, #HistFicMay, by accident and I'm so pleased I did. Scottish writer, Virginia Crow decided to run a social media event on Twitter throughout May, giving an opportunity for historical fiction authors to spread the word about their writing.

Every day writers are invited to answer questions and accept challenges with posts, pictures and/or quotes, using the hashtag #HistFicMay. The first week was about introductions; the second was about research; the third was about sub-genres; the fourth is now about characters and in Virginia's words, 'the last few are random!' We could take part as often or as infrequently as we wanted to.  

I took the opportunity to answer questions and prompts about my new novel, with its working title of
A Tale of Two Sisters. Having now completed my first set of edits, I found taking part proved to be an excellent way of reflecting on what this fourth novel is about. The novel is set in rural Wales and Sicily in 1943 and 1968. It involves a family secret, forbidden love and ultimately forgiveness, where two sisters work together to clear their father's name of a crime he did not commit.
My main character is Claudia Rosso. She is an artist who travels to Sicily from her native Wales to find out why her father, Carlo, a former Italian POW interned in a prison camp in mid-Wales could never return to his homeland when WW2 ended. 
When identifying a sub-genre in my novel on Day 15, I found this perhaps the most useful and I can see it will help when having to tell people about my writing. Yes, all my novels are set in different historical eras, but there are not necessarily about the historical events themselves. They are family stories about ordinary people living at certain times in history, having to deal with what that era demands of them. Therefore, I do not write historical fiction 'per se'.The sub-genre I identified was 'historical romance'. There is a love interest in all my books and in A Tale of Two Sisters, there is a love story in both the 1940s story and the 1968 one. Claudia is taken on her first boat trip by Alessandro and they visit a heart-shaped cave. They are just friends but could he have something more romantic in mind? On Day 17, the quote I chose to illustrate my sub-genre was from further on in the story.

'It was turning into a perfect evening. There was something quite sensual about being with someone who took your hand and kissed you gently, looking at someone with longing but knowing they weren't ready to love you back. Yet. That word was important.' 
Courtesy of G. Lancett
The biggest pitfall for my sub-genre of historical romance was early on in the novel when I had to allow my characters to fall in love yet stay within the rules imposed on the POWs regarding fraternisation with local women. Even after Italy capitulated in 1943, that rule remained and if it was broken, the POW would be confined to the prison camp. Did I succeed?

As well as thinking about my own novel, it's been so good to read the posts from others taking part. The benefit of Virginia's idea is that I've found lots of new historical novelists to follow. Many of their books sound wonderful and are finding their way onto my ever-growing TBR pile. When May is over, I shall continue to keep in touch by taking part in #HistFicThursdays. So a big thank you to Virginia! 

Thank you for reading. Do you have a sub-genre in your writing? If so, I'd love you to comment and tell us all what it is. 

Hopefully, next time I shall have more news about the new novel with a confirmed title, a cover and a publication date from my new publisher, Joffe Books/ Choc Lit Publishers . Watch this space! 

You may follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.
For more about me and my books, please visit my AMAZON page where all the novels are 0.00p on Kindle Unlimited at the moment if you are a subscriber.