Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When History Meets Fiction

I have given three talks this week titled "When History Meets Fiction" about writing and reading historical fiction. It's been a lot of fun and I've met some really interesting people.

My friend, Phyllis, leads 12 book discussion groups, mostly at the local Barnes & Noble stores. The groups read "Warrior Woman" by James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. I supplemented the discussion with "The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction" by James Alexander Thom.

As a historian, genealogist and author I found it quite interesting to read his comments on history and historical fiction. Basically a good historical novelist should do tons of research and then do more and more. The HF writer should be able to put the reader right down in that time and place including all the smells and sounds; good and bad.

There shouldn't be anachronisms such as sleep apnea being mentioned in a historical romance set in pre-Civil War America. That jolted me right out of that time and place!

I took old copies of Civil War era newspapers and photographs to show the group what it was like use these old documents. I also had copies of court and land records from Botetourt County, Virginia in the late 1700s where my McFerran family served with some of the people written about in the novel.
A real hands-on look at what research is like.
By agreeing to do this talk with Phyllis I learned a great deal about writing, research and the art of historical fiction. Teaching is always the best way to learn.

I believe all genealogists, historians, and writers should read Thom's book about the craft of writing historical fiction. It will open your eyes to all aspects of being a writer, researcher and reader.


  1. It's cool to see you in action Rita! Too bad it wasn't taped/recorded. It sounds interesting.

  2. What an interesting talk that must have been Rita!

  3. Thank you for sharing post this about the historical fiction genre. (you look great btw) I remember visiting one of your talks at the state capitol a few years back where I got to tour the archives there. The history of the west fascinates me. We have the best stories hiding in our past!

  4. I love it! I am a writer too and the Thom reference will be followed. Lori from Sketchbook and yes - you look great!


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