Thursday, January 11, 2007

Capture the Castle!

Harlech Castle, Gwynedd.
From Schama's A History of Britain.

It's official.
Agent Kristin of Pub Rants has announced she has had inquiries from editors for historicals.
I believe the usual body part was mentioned.
No regencies, however.
No comedy of manners, drawing rooms or Heyer repetitions.
Seems they want action, not Almack's and assemblies.
History conveniently provides lots of opportunities for more direct excitement.
Someone mentioned recently that they set a romance in the Renaissance, just as an example.
And the Crapometer contained examples of other historical periods.
There's the ever popular seax and dirkswingers.

Seems also that intimations of this trend were evident last year at various conventions.
And I presume - given Agent Kristin's general area of genre representation - that this yen and yearning by editors applies mainly to historical romances.

Nevertheless, this sort of viral tends to spread into other genres and sub-genres over time.
Alternative history may remain attractive.
Perhaps even time travel adventures - sans muscular Scottish lairds and hunky Vikings with Big Swords - will also benefit from this resurgence.
As you may know, in my kitchen-sink opus, Tempest in Time, my Damie's forays include - to date - three different historical periods.
Unfortunately, I screwed the conventions and her dirkswinger is a modern guy.

Thank you all for your advice and comments yesterday re: narrative POV.
Perhaps on the weekend I'll shove an original page into your unsuspecting faces and then provide an alternative re-write.


Ric said...

Logic would assume a query letter would be involved. Time for Damie to see the editors.

Jaye Wells said...

This is great news. Although I love a good regency, it'll be interesting to see the new crop of historical adventures Agent K talked about.

Rick said...

What Ric said.

I haven't even gotten to my coffee yet, but I screwed the conventions and her dirkswinger is a modern guy nearly sent hot chocolate all over my monitor.

December Quinn said...

Grrr. Wasted opportunities.

Bernita said...

You're right, Ric.
Must. Send. More. Queries.

I gather the emphasis should be on the adventure, Jaye.
We'll see in a year or so.

I'm always up to something, Rick.

Not with your talent, December.

Robyn said...

Dirkswingers rule!

Shove away.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I love your creativeness at mixing historical and time travel...when your time is write :-) it will sell!

Question: I must admit ignorance. What is the difference between a regency and a historical? This isn't my time period of choice so I don't really understand.

Kate Thornton said...

Please please please post a page or two and an alternate re-write! I would *love* to read it!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Robyn and Kate!
Your heads.

Bonnie, you've put your finger on something.
Just as "paranormal" has come to mean vamps or weres, "historical" to many minds seems to mean the regency period.Period.
With a few excursions with the aforementioned Scots and Vikings.
A historical romance/story ostensibly can be set in any time period or place.

No creativity involved, I'm afraid, though. Time travel often involves a different time period and often an historical one.

anna said...

and I was so hoping to a Viking with a big sword..
looking forward to the original pg and rewrite. please

Bernita said...

Though Vikings swinging their seaxes were fairly thick on the ground, Anna!

Candice Gilmer said...

It doesn't surprise me that historical romance is taking an upswing -- I imagine there's a certain place where editors go "Okay, no more vampires/contemp cop/detective/etc stories" adn want something new and fresh.

Everything goes in cycles. So much of the publishing business is about timing.

Gabriele C. said...

Bernita, Damie will find a home. Just query widely, since it's such a crossover thingie. Category Romance publishers may have problems to find a category for the girl, but what about Fantasy/SF and Mainstream?

I would like to see some Historicals that get the history right for a change. Not easy if action is required because action heroines are not something you'll find a lot in history and will be tricky to invent without violating the mores of past times.

I hope the romance element won't take over the market to an extend that I'm expected to add romance to my books. ;)

Bernita said...

Over-saturationm I suppose, Candice.
Too many candied yams will make one lust after broccoli and even brussels sprouts.

Thank you, Gabriele.It's certainly not category - but I have to wonder if I've crossed too many genres.
The historical writer has perhaps the most difficult job in all fiction. Accuracy is only one of them. Readers' preconceived ideas are another.
However, "action" does not have to mean a female leading an armed troop.
If the winds of change are drifting toward historical romances, it follows that straight historicals will benefit, I should think.

December Quinn said...

Thanks, Bernita.

BTW, please do post some bits for us to feast on while we wait for you to get snapped up by Random House!

Jeff said...

"Perhaps on the weekend I'll shove an original page into your unsuspecting faces and then provide an alternative re-write."

Please do, Bernita.

Rick said...

Gabriele - romance already has taken over in the sense that doesn't it account for about half of all fiction sold? I've heard the speculation that more SF is now being sold as "futuristic romance" than as SF.

But I suspect that Bernita is right: if the market grows for historical romance, it will likely spill over to straight hist-fic.

Regarding action heroines, Xena types are very scarce on the historical ground, but ISTR that medieval household-management books, intended for the lady of the manor, regularly had a chapter on defending the castle. So action leadership, if not actual sword-wielding, can be arranged with a bit of care and imagination.

And looking at it from my admittedly male perspective, the hero riding up at the end to raise the siege of the heroine's stoutly-defended castle is sort of a win-win, isn't it?

-- Rick

Bernita said...

Random House?
Be nice, December. I have to find an agent first.

Jeff: Another head for the castle wall, ho-ho.

Was thinking of a few such historical cases, Rick.
At times women did indeed have the authority and used it. Well.
I believe they claimed that Stephen's Queen was a better general than he.

December Quinn said...

I believe they claimed that Stephen's Queen was a better general than he.

Yep...and she actually was, too.

Poor Stephen.

Marie said...

Thanks Bernita, sounds interesting.

Bernita said...

We shall see, Marie...

Marissa Doyle said...

For an excellent example of an action/adventure historical, try Madeleine E. Robins' "Point of Honor", set in a slightly alternate Regency England where Queen Charlotte became regent, not Prinny. The main character is a well-born young woman who runs away with her brother's fencing master, becomes a master swordswoman, then returns to England after her lover's death and becomes a private investigator. Marvelous book, and exquisitely correct despite the playing with history. And what is IMHO most praiseworthy about it is that the MC is not a 21st century woman in 19th century clothes--she's very much a product of her time and culture, unlike far too many historical romances on the market right now. I hope this is the sort of book those editors who called KN had in mind.

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now, Bernita, and it's wonderful...and on my daily read list.

Bernita said...

I am delighted and charmed, Marissa. Thank you.
Marissa knows of which she speaks and recommends regarding action historicals.
Her first book "Bewitching Season" will be out from Holt in early 2008 - and sounds fascinating!