Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, reveals a shocking truth—she’s going through a change in reading taste.
The Tudors, the Borgias, the White Queen, Game of Thrones, Reign. Is it my imagination or are we turning back the clock and embracing 800-year-old stories?
I remember going through my Tudor period in high school. This was before the Six Wives of Henry VIII came on TV. There were also plays-to-movies: Anne of a Thousand Days, Becket, Lion in the Winter.
I gave up all historical fiction for the mystery genre. But lately, I’m burned out. I’ve read enough mysteries over the last three decades to the point where I know whodunit, howdunit, whydunit. I write mysteries, yet lately I’ve been lured to the dark (age) side.
Blame it on Philippa Gregory. Her series of books about queens we really didn’t know much about, or their sisters, shot up the best seller list. Oh, there were women authors writing about the royal families well before Philippa hit the bookshelves. Jean Plaidy ruled, Allison Weir did both fiction and non-fiction. But, it was “The Other Boleyn Girl” that captured modern day imaginations.
Why this fascination for early European history? I think it’s because female writers are putting the women behind the throne front and center. We aren’t hearing history from the male perspective. Battles, politics, beheadings—BORING. No, we want to read how strong women held things together while their men suited up and went off to war. How they took care of the kingdom and men they were forced to marry.
You can easily spot the books. The covers usually show a woman in sumptuous dress but from the back or with the head cut off (not literally). They are often mistaken for historical romances, another genre altogether. There’s usually a castle in the background. Those are now the books I gravitate toward.
Consider it “history lite.” The info is well researched and notated. The sources are indisputable. I don’t care about that. I want to read about the food these people ate, the clothes the women wore, their cosmetics, how they managed households. I love how they manipulated men and fought like harridans to get their sons on the throne.
I’m not alone. My friend Gayle introduced me to Shelfari where there are other historical fiction aficionados. I love adding books to my cyber shelf and checking out the shelves of others for new reads. I trade books with my friend Peny; we have a book club of just two. I scour used bookstores and library sales for books on my growing list. It’s a scavenger hunt because I’ve discovered readers in this genre hold tight to their books. My list is broken down by libraries and I order books to be sent to Lemoore.
The other day one of the librarians asked if I was researching to write a historical mystery. I got to thinking: astrology was pretty important in olden times. I’m working on an idea to have my astrologer, Christy Bristol, delve into history for her own enlightenment.
I’m still Buried Under Books, but it’s a new genre of old history.