Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I write Colonial American Fiction

Well, technically I don't write Colonial American fiction, but I do write fiction set in the late 18th century, which is pretty close. And if these nudgings and whisperings from characters in the wings mean what I think they mean, after my current work in progress is finished I'll be writing a story set during the Revolutionary War, which is even closer.

Over at Colonial Quills, historical writers are discussing why they write colonial fiction, among them Laura Frantz (author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, and Courting Morrow Little).

Come on over and visit.

I chimed in with this:

I'd love to claim an abiding interest in early American history as the catalyst for choosing this time period to write about. But the truth of it is, when I had a story idea back in 2004 that took place on a Piedmont plantation, had to do with slavery issues, and happened well before the Civil War, I chose the 1790s over an early 1800s time period for the sole reason that I wanted my male characters to wear knee breeches, not trousers. I'd seen the movie, The Patriot, and found that particular clothing item of the 18th century most fetching. :)

Now, all these years of writing and research later, I believe a more profound guidance was at work as well. I've fallen madly, obsessively in love with the 18th century (particularly the Revolutionary and early Federal eras) and the ideals, conflicts, failures, and triumphs of that generation of frontiersmen, warriors, farmers, slaves, and natives. I can't get through the research for one story without stumbling across an account of some happening so intriguing and adventuresome and daring that a new story idea explodes across my mind like popcorn over a fire. I don't think we've more than scratched the surface yet.


  1. Lori, Love your comments over at Quills and here:) It's wonderful to see how uniquely we are all drawn to this amazing time period. Thx for the photo of Morrow here:)

  2. "stumbling across an account of some happening so intriguing and adventuresome and daring that a new story idea explodes across my mind like popcorn over a fire" I just love the way you put things. That's such a perfect analogy!

  3. Laura, I think mine was the most shallow reason of all! :)

    Carla, it feels like that sometimes, those initial story ideas popping out of control. Gotta open a file and set them down to make them stop for a bit.

  4. I love American historical fiction regardless of the time period. And I adored Courting Morrow Little! It's so funny you chose the exact time frame based on men's clothing. Hilarious!

  5. Jill, I do feel like God had a hand in the choosing, whether or not I knew it at the time. I picked 1793 as the year my first 18C story began for an equally illogical reason as I did the era of knee breeches. I liked the colors of those numbers. I have synesthesia, so numbers all have specific unvarying colors for me. I liked the colors of 1793 better than, say 1798, or 1791. I knew nothing to tell between those years, or about the time period in general, except that I was pretty sure the Rev War was over by the 1790s. But as I researched and wrote the story, I kept stumbling onto such perfect historical facts to support my plot, that I eventually came to realize I couldn't have picked a more perfect year than 1793, even month of that year, to open that story.

    That was God looking out for the heedless. :)

  6. Hee hee, I like the way you started with something basic and it developed into something so much deeper. Just tagged you!

  7. Deniz,

    Whew! What a weekend. I followed you over this morning to check out this tag. That was fun. :)