Since we’re all talking about why we love historicals and why we started reading and writing them...
My mom is a huge Eugenia Price fan. She has almost every book in hardcover, and when I was about seven years old, she and I took an extended weekend and toured the settings for the novels. We did St. Simon’s, Jekyll and Sea Islands, and visited the old graveyards, hunting for the names of characters in the books. And we found them. We walked as far as we could onto the marshes, checking out the view, seeing what the characters would’ve seen.
At one of the cemeteries, under the shadow of swaying Spanish Moss and between decaying headstones, my mom apologized for toting me around to all these places. My little kid response? “It’s okay, Mom. I like historical things, too.”
Fast forward to 1993. I was fourteen, and the movie musical Newsies made it to the Disney Channel. My mom and I curled up on the couch with popcorn and watched it for the first time.
My most favoritist film ever.
I blame director Kenny Ortega and his cast and crew for every period piece I’ve ever written. In high school I spent hours at the library, sorting through The New York Times on microfilm, trying to collect all the articles about the Newsboys Strike of 1899. And I did. I read the book, I bought the soundtrack (first on cassette, then later on CD), I bought the movie (first on cassette, then later on DVD). I did history reports on old New York, biography reports on Joe Pulitzer, and government reports on child labor laws, sweatshops, and social reform.
While in college, I found an online writing group devoted to turn of the century New York, started by other fans of the movie.
And that’s how I started writing historicals.
I love reading them, too, and am always on the lookout for someone writing in turn of the century New York. I really enjoy Victoria Thompson, wish to have style like Caleb Carr, and occasionally harass Jennifer Donnelly for Web site updates (she’s a great sport about it).
That’s it for this morn’!