Stories of Inspiration: Historical Fiction Edition, Volume 1

Written by Suzanne Fox (ed.)
Review by Nicole Evelina

This book is a little different from most we review in this publication because it is an anthology of essays by more than 30 of our fellow historical fiction writers. In this volume, they write about what inspired them to write their particular books, share their challenges (such as getting mired in facts to the detriment of story), and sometimes reveal why they chose this genre. Some essays are personal, some educational, others entertaining; they are as diverse as the authors who penned them. The spark of magic that ignited their tales also runs the gamut, from strange and mundane locations, photographs, and family lore to demands from characters, unbelievable historical facts, natural disasters, and everything in between. But it is clear they all share a passion for and respect of the past.

This is a valuable resource to both readers and writers. As a reader, I sat with my phone next to me, constantly adding books to my “To Be Read list” on Goodreads as I went along. Many of their articles included details – bits of information not available from the back cover copy or title – that made me want to read books I otherwise might have passed by. It was fascinating to get a sneak peek into the minds and processes of so many wonderful authors.

As an author, I was comforted reading about other writers having similar experiences to mine when they were struck with story ideas, sometimes becoming obsessed (in a good way) with their topics or characters. I particularly loved the introductory essay “On the Power of the Historical Novel” by Eliot Pattison. I found myself highlighting passages about the “why” of historical fiction, such as “I don’t want a vital people to be reduced to a date; I want to see the tears of the Iroquois widows and hear the slow, melancholy beat of their tribal drums,” and saying “yes!” out loud as I read, growing more and more proud to be a historical fiction author with each line. I could have read an entire book just on that topic.

A second edition of historical fiction stories of inspiration was mentioned in the book, and I believe any of us would be honored to be included. I know I would!