Monday, April 19, 2010
Disclaimer: I’m unpublished. I’ve never written historical fiction. I am likely going to anger several fans of classic literature with the following post. I’d like the mob to remember that classic literature was not classic at the time of publication—an observation, I am certain, to which Dickens and Hardy and the rest would heartily agree.
On Thursday I made a decision which would impact my productivity on everything from laundry to writing for the next several days: I picked up The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. Described as “The Age of Innocence meets Gossip Girl”, it interweaves the stories of the Holland sisters and their circle of acquaintances in 1899 New York (and was so addictive I picked up the next two books the following day).
Coincidentally, about the same time, I began an email discussion with a fellow GotYA contributor about writing historical YA fiction and what form the prose should take. Should it read like Bronte and Wharton or was it acceptable to use a somewhat more modern style (shorter sentences, fewer semi-colons, nary an “ere long” in sight)?
Personally, I think it’s fine and dandy to use an update style of prose provided you can still weave an illusion of a given time period (something Godbersen did amazingly well). When I pick up a modern novel—even when that modern novel is portraying a far off time and place—I know I’m not reading Dickens or Austen. I’m prepared for the language to be a little more accessible and for things to be a little more straightforward—heck, in some ways, I’m counting on it.
Now, as the disclaimer states, I’m unpublished and hardly a reliable source of information regarding either classics (of which the only one I’ve ever truly adored was Jane Eyre) or historical fiction (somehow I don’t think reading A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux gets me much street cred) so I’d love for GotYA readers to weigh in. Do you write or read historical YA fiction? Got an opinion on prose? I’d love to hear it. Any great YA historical fiction titles our readers should check out?
It would be a glaring oversight of me to write a post mentioning the classics without plugging one of my favorite internet resources: Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg provides internet users with hundreds of titles which have fallen into public domain—including Jane Eyre and The Age of Innocence.