It is a fact universally acknowledged that I love history. History is full of the most amazing stories. Real people working through incredible times & living amazing lives.
Historical fiction should be gripping. It takes all these true to life mind-blowing events, and inserts a fictional character who gets to experience all of it. I’m kind of jealous.
Sadly, a lot of historical fiction is close to boring. It leaves out the diversity, or controversial things. The action that kept real people on their toes, or the heart-stopping controversies people screamed about for days.
I think authors like to make history too tidy. They drop out the panic attacks, the depression, the bad weather, the assaults and the douchebags out of the story. Historical fiction is too clean, too cut and dry. And sometimes, really dull.
Normal people @ most historical fiction books.
That’s not the kind of historical fiction I want to read or write. Every time I read semi-interesting stories from history, I want to write gripping stories. So I collect interesting events & hope to write about them one day.
Now, the facts I think are fascinating might not be as fun to you. Or other people. But they’re still true stories. So let’s chat about them and you tell me what you think would make the most interesting story.
Salons of Very Interesting People Casually Planning Revolutions
One of my favorite things about the French Revolution are the salons. Basically, this whole revolution started because some women wanted to get together, have coffee, and chat with cool guys like Voltaire and Rousseau.
Now, most of those woman ended up dead, because revolution never goes the way you planned. And the salons became hard core fan clubs for people who wanted to kill the King & Queen & hate on everything British. Also, hate on the Austrians.
The moral of the story, invite people over for coffee, chat with thoughtful guys, and you might help bring down the government. Hahaha, I think I’m joking.
I have no idea what kind of story I would write set during the revolution, because there are already some pretty great historical fiction books out there. But I think they tend to be a bit the same?
A. Person joins the revolution, and is like, WOAH, I didn’t want to kill THAT many people. How do I clean up this mess?
B. Rich aristocrat realizes life for the poor is super terrible, feels kind of bad, tries to help said revolution and is almost guillotined. but THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL or SYDNEY CARTON*cries* saves the day.
C. We just skip the really terrible revolution and write a reaallllllllllllllllly long book that becomes famous because of epic musical numbers about the mini-revolution that also ended badly.
I’ve seen these ideas recycled a lot. And I’ve promised myself if I ever write a book set during any part of France’s million revolutions, it won’t/can’t/shall not use these ideas.
One thing I’m pretty sure of, actually, that I know. France didn’t just have rich and poor people. There were all sorts of people. I want to write stories of the everyday people who we don’t hear about. probably outside of Paris, because the revolution wan’t just in Paris.
Actually, France had a civil war because half the country didn’t want to kill the king. Why not tell their story? I actually kind of like this idea, so I’m keeping it my idea bank.
British Navy. British Navy. British Navy.
I absolutely love anything to do with the British Navy.
Now, it could just be the uniforms. Or the accents. Maybe the tall majestic ships. Or the idea of taking on the ocean in a fairly small boat for months at a time. And the sheer stupidity of loading cannons and blasting at wooden ships with heavy metal balls.
British Naval history is absolutely crazy. I mean, when the Admiral to beat All Admirals, Admiral Nelson died in combat, his men packed him in a barrel of brandy until they could get him back to England for a proper burial. Just nuts.
Then all the things the British Navy could do. Load cannon, fire cannon, and reload and fire, three times in less than 5 minutes. The entire British empire basically happened because the British could fire cannons faster than the French or Spanish.
Besides firing cannons, the British Marines were crazy amazing. They’d pull up super close to an enemy ship, and jump onboard. Fierce hand-to-hand combat until one side surrendered.
Also, while you’re swinging swords as each other, there were these guys who would be firing guns at you. And cannons, too.
How insane would you have to be to join the epically dangerous British Navy?
It turns out, no-one wanted to join the Navy. Because living > death
So the Navy hired crews to kidnap people off the street and force them into the Navy. Fun job recruitment.
And if you’re thinking they only kidnapped grown men, yes that was the general rule. As in, please only kidnap people around 18 years old for our ships.
But ships always had younger kids serving too, since to become an officer you needed to join the navy before turning 14-years old.
So basically – “Happy 12th Birthday! Time to join the Navy, where you have a high chance of fighting the French and dying a horrible death!”
And, America & England went to war because the British had another nasty habit. They would randomly stop American ships, and claim the American sailors were runaway British sailors. Then they’d force them to join the British Navy or, you know, also die.
All that to say, this would be a fantastic setting for a book. Think of all the things that could happen to one character.
- Battles galore.
- Harassing Americans. (always fun)
- Throw in some pirates for good measure.
- Sea storms.
- And add in the French, because the French always make any story exciting.*
It would be a crime for this to be a boring story.
Or, you could just watch Hornblower, since the tv series pretty much has all this covered.
*My insults against the French are purely based on British snobbery. After 4 semesters of studying French, I have a very high respect for the French and their incredible culture and history.
Indira Ghandi & India’s Struggle for Independence
When I first showed serious interest in politics, my dad suggested I read about three women: Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, and Indira Ghandi.
All three became prime minsters in their countries. All three were inspiring. And while I like all three of them, I fell completely in love with Indira Ghandi.
Now, I know Indira isn’t perfect and some of her policy decisions were super iffy. But I really like her. Alot.
As a 5 year old she burned her beloved childhood doll because it was made in England.
She had public banana eating contests. And ate something like 20 bananas all at once.
She helped organize & lead a group of 60,000 kids in demonstrations against British rule.
And, she was always very feisty and independent. Even marrying someone her parents didn’t pick out. Which was so controversial her family friend, THE Mahatma Ghandi had to release a public statement telling people to shut up and let her be happily married.
Also, Indira became India’s first female Prime Minster and was great friends with Margaret Thatcher.
^Me, reading the gigantic biography of Indira Ghandi^
India’s struggle for independence is also an incredible story that doesn’t get told. (At least not that much in the west) It’s so easy to take freedom for granted, and I think reading about the hard work an entire country put into becoming free is important.
Also, Martin Luther King Jr. based alot of his work against racism in the US on how India worked peacefully against the British.
Tejanos being Totally Amazing & whipping Santa Anna. (Also, white people stole all the credit)
I’m from Texas, and we LOVE our Texas history. As in we have our own Independence Day & Texas legends & Texas heroes.
The Alamo is one those important Texas legends. A few men standing up against murderous Santa Anna and saving all of Texas.
Growing up, I pretty much only heard about a few of those men. Davy Crocket, William Barrett Travis, James Bowie.
White American guys. But that’s not the only story!!!
Me @ all the history about diverse people that isn’t told.
What people don’t talk about are the native Texans of Spanish descent – the Tejanos. Tejanos lived in Texas for generations and are very important to Texas history.
Most of the Tejanos weren’t exactly friends with the American colonizers. Their families had owned land in Texas for a really long time, before Stephen Austin rode into Texas, and was like, WOW, I WANT ALL THIS LAND.
And the Tejanos, were like, UM, THIS IS OUR LAND.
Well, you can guess who won THAT fight. Anyway, the American Texans move in and the two groups don’t get along. But then Mexico has a civil war, and a murderous dictator takes over. EVIL SANTA ANNA.
Suddenly, the Tejanos and white Texans are friends because everyone hates Santa Anna. (he overthrew the Mexican constitution and was an all round jerk)
Texas and Santa Anna go to war, Texas becomes free, and voila, we have a whole bunch of cool history, like the Alamo & Sam Houston and all that. Also, cowboys.
BUT EVERYONE FORGOT ABOUT THE TEJANOS.
Juan Seguin was the last man to escape from the Alamo, seven other Tejanos died at the Alamo. Jose Antonio Navarro and Lorenzo de Zavala signed the Texas declaration fo independence. Actually, Lorenzo de Zavala designed the first Texas flag, which is super epic.
Anyway, all that epic history about Tejanos needs written in an adventurous YA historical fiction book. I mean, Texas as a setting is pretty cool.
A) It’s Texas. Open skies & bluebonnets & other awesome Texas things.
B) It’s about declaring war & fighting the murderous evil Santa Anna
C) IT IS DIVERSE. WE NEED THIS BOOK.
That is all.
*I will admit I have never studied Santa Anna but the propaganda against him is very strong. I have no idea if this guy was as bad as Texas history says. He did have a golden chamberpot with him when the Texans captured him, as least according to legends. So a dictator with style.
Big Cities with Lots of Problems & Weird Things Happening
London, New York, Paris, Chicago, Shanghai.
I want a book set in one of these GIANT cities right around the turn of the century. When life was kind of terrible, and nobody knew what to do about all the problems. Also, new inventions happening, like electricity!
So, you have immigration. Lots of young kids from other countries figuring out the big city. That could be fun, right?
You might have mobs running the city. I think I’m talking about Chicago. So, crime. More fun.
POLITICS. If you’re from New York, there’s this mess called the Tammany Machine and it’s basically these political people running the entire city. With lots of riots and fights. Gleeful grin because THAT would be SO FUN to write. Also, the politics were so IRISH. Please, yes. I need to write this.
^Thinking about this kind of story^
Colonization and the Terrible British. If you’re story is based in Shanghai, we can write all about how the Chinese are keeping the foreigners from taking over. And China is becoming industrialized & the Boxer Rebellion & very interesting things are happening.
ARTS – Can you imagine writing this story set in Paris right at the turn of the 19th century???? This would be so intense! I mean, an Opera, the Rite of Spring, caused a REAL LIFE RIOT.
So crazy free spirited art people + lots of war with Germany + just being French. THIS WOULD BE FUN.
There’s just so much possibility with big cities and incredible stories. And I really actually hope I can write a story with one of these ideas some day.
Desegregation & The BRAVE, BRAVE kids who integrated public schools
Before I talk about this, I want to say, I don’t think I’m the one to tell this story. This story belongs to the people who experienced it. Many of those brave students and the communities who went through desegregation are still alive. It would be incredible to hear their story in their own words.
That said, I do want to read this story. I wouldn’t mind helping write such a book and hyping it ALOT.
What exactly am I talking about? I’m talking about the amazing people who stood up to Jim Crow segregation. The black kids who were the very first ones to attend all-white schools. The college age students who held sit-ins at lunch counters. Freedom riders who rode from city to city, while angry racists burned their buses and bombed them.
I used to think this racism was from a long time ago. But after thinking about it, and conversations with my mom, I’ve realized, it wasn’t that long ago.
My mom remembers when water fountains were white only. Every time we went to Ft Worth when I was kid, she’d mention seeing the “whites only” water fountains at the Ft. Worth Post Office. I remember her saying that since her parents were in the military she thought it was so weird when they came home on vacation and everybody made big deals about white vs black people. In the military, it didn’t matter.
Now, my mom is white. And she remembers the segregation from her childhood. I know there must be plenty of other people who remember.
I want to read black authors and their stories. Kind of like Angie Thomas and the Hate U Give. But historical fiction from the very recent history.
True story – I actually had at least 4 more history ideas on this list. But I’ve already written 2,000 words, so I decided I should stop.
In case you’re wondering, yes, all my friends have told me to be a history teacher. And no, I’m not going to school to be a teacher. because I want to make history, not just talk about it. Journalism is history’s first draft and I want to be on the front lines writing it. Or at least writing books that make history.
I tried VERY HARD to make each section in this loooooonnngggg blog post interesting. Not just facts. Entertaining with lots of fun details. I dearly hope it wasn’t boring. Because if me
talking fangirling about history is boring in a blog post, than a book wouldn’t be much better.
Also, matching gifs with history chatter is harder than it looks.
If you could live any time in history, when would you pick? Do you read historical fiction? What time in history do think should be part of a book?
What do you think about all my ideas? Did you learn something from my rambling set of facts?
Do you have a really cool history fact that you’re dying to tell me? As the queen of fact collecting, I want to hear them all!