Posted by: Natalie | July 20, 2010

Historical Fiction

We all know by now that I am writing historical fiction for children. We know that my current project is set within the brutal yet fascinating English Civil War with an attempt to colour the grim reality into a sinister world of magic and treachery. In a nutshell. I still think the story has merit and potential, I just hope I can do it justice.

I regularly peruse the local bookshop shelves for new children’s fiction finds, and so far (fingers crossed) am I yet to come across anything that fits my own remit. But, saying that, I do not have the widest knowledge of historical fiction in the 9-12 bracket. Sally Gardener, of course is so far my Historical Fiction Heroine with her wonderful tails of chivalry in The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade. However, as I skimmed over the Bloomsbury Children’s Books website this morning, a new name popped into view.

Mary Hooper is a name, I am slightly embarrassed to say, I have not encountered before. But on reading through the Bloomsbury information, and that on her own site, I realised I have been much remiss. She writes fiction for the 8-12 and the 12+ brackets, including much historical fiction (lists of her books can be found on her own site (Click Here) and at Bloomsbury) and from this morning’s research, I believe I will be rectifying this omission in my literary knowledge very soon!

CLICK ME

I have been enticed. The Bloomsbury Children’s Book page has various teasers including a PDF of Hooper’s first chapter to her latest work, Fallen Grace. It is certainly within the 12+ bracket, as the story tackles a young girl who appears to have been the subjected of an awful incident that ultimately leaves her pregnant and alone save for her sister.

Although I am aiming for a slightly younger audience with my own work, I still want to be able to write like Mary Hooper. The subject knowledge already tickled my fancy in that it was tragic, dark and macabre, but her words are so enticing I am ready to go straight out and buy this book today. I’m not, because I will spend the day reading it instead of working on my own words! But, this single chapter is a lesson; a lesson in how to captivate an audience within only a few paragraphs; a lesson in modern gothic; a lesson in what I really want to be.

The story is set in the Victorian era, so again, a very different time slot, but I think it will be able to show me how to subtly weave characteristics of an epoch throughout a story line. Sally Gardner’s work also did this, but I need to experience as many different methods as possible. I may even have to go so far as to abandon my ‘adult’ reading pile for a while and work on creating a new one dedicated solely to children’s historical fiction. In fact, I think this is not just a possibility but a must for my own writing career. How can I expect to place my book into the saturated market if I do not have an exceptional understanding of it to begin with. Yes, in general I have a vast knowledge of children’s fiction, but its now time to narrow it a little to a specific corner of the market. This may also just be a good excuse to buy more books!!

So, I plan on doing my research and finding authors that I need and must read – if any spring to mind, please let me know! But, for now I shall leave you with the synopsis for Fallen Grace, courtesy of Bloomsbury.  And if you don’t fancy reading any more, scroll to the bottom to watch the video book trailer created for Fallen Grace.

A thrilling tale set in the Victorian era, featuring Grace, who’s held in thrall by her own dark secret that threatens to overwhelm her and her sister. From the acclaimed and very popular Mary Hooper

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant’s body in a rich lady’s coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper’s grave.

Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace’s life. But Grace doesn’t know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.

A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.

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