Falling Into History
|Courtesy of Bob Burkhardt on Wikimedia|
I grew up in Minnesota. Ice clung to the insides of the windows about a quarter of an inch thick, or Jack Frost painted gorgeous, swirling designs thereon. If you haven’t seen frost on windows, you must Google it! And then there were the crystalized trees of what seemed like Fairyland. Again, search Google for a wonderful visual experience.
|Courtesy of David Stonner of FEMA on Wikimedia|
When I was not climbing that tree in the front or picking crab apples in the back, where was I? I could always be found upstairs reading My Bookhouse books. They were my first, and probably most important, introduction to my great love—English history and literature. Before I could read, there were the pictures. And I worked hard learning to read so I could put myself into those pages.
As a child, though, I did not realize that this was so important to me or that I could become a writer. Perhaps it was the moving away from our Minnesota home to the bustle of San Diego. It was a changed culture with many relatives to keep me busy. There were zoos, towering palms and sandy beaches. Every face at school was new¸ and it was so different—the hallways had no walls. It was a whirlwind of change, and I went on to other things. The books had been left in Minnesota, which I did not realize until I asked for them decades later. But how could they have been left?
Those books were the most important possession of my childhood. Sitting at the piano hurt my back, and I forgot how to play the flute altogether. What else was left over? But in time I realized that I still had the memories. The pictures were never to be forgotten, and the stories, well, I’d retained the sense of them. Written by the likes of Shakespeare, Keats, and Hans Christian Andersen, they could not just disappear from my mind. And there they sat, undisturbed, for years while I was occupied with other things.
Fast forward to 2010. The recession which began in 2008 had killed the work that had kept me so busy. I had spent time searching for work and had found none. The crumbled economy was still struggling to its feet. I had some time to myself which allowed me to watch the last period movies I could find. I had never before been bored, but now I was.
I started to play around with writing my own story. I picked up library books about England, big, luscious picture-books, and ideas began to brew. An ending formed almost before the body of the story, and I built the rest around that. It was published a year later and revised in 2012 when I’d learned a thing or two about writing. It has done fairly well, my first novel, The Companion of Lady Holmeshire.
Marketing was another matter. To make a long story short, I started a blog featuring the British history research of multiple historical fiction authors. Launched on September 23, 2011, it has been amazingly popular, now having had nearly a quarter of a million unique visitors. It is called English Historical Fiction Authors. Readers have said they sit down to the blog with their morning coffee. We have a Facebook group by the same name, and it has been a fun and friendly adventure.
After celebrating the first anniversary of our blog, one of the members, Deborah Swift, suggested that we select posts from that year to put together a book. Although I was in the middle of another novel, I loved the idea, and it seemed that the blog members and guest posters did as well.
By our second anniversary Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors was ready to release. The enthusiasm of the authors and readers, who had been asking for it months in advance, has been overwhelming, and the result is that we did well on Amazon that first week and are reaping the benefits of Amazon’s aid in promotion of the book since. I greatly appreciate the help of author Paula Lofting to bring the book to your attention here.
“Anyone who likes historical fiction—or history generally—will find Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors a delightful source of "little known facts" presented in a logical and easily accessible fashion.” --Helena Schrader
“Despite the length, there is no encyclopedia feel and each author's voice is well preserved.”
--Sound of Silence Book Fan's Reviews
“Handle With Caution. Readers are likely to become stuck in a comfy chair and not emerge from this book for several days.”--Helen Hollick
Though the book is large, we did our best to make it affordable for all lovers of Britain and of history, and at this writing Amazon has the paperback at a special discount. You can find it there on Kobo, and it will soon be available on Barnes and Noble and other online stores.
Thank you for reading here today, and many thanks to Paula for the invitation.