Friday, February 25, 2011

Guest Blog with Author Christine Fletcher

Today Christine Fletcher, author of Ten Cents a Dance is here to participate in my Historical Fiction series, as well as add a little historical romance to the mix of HFR! 

Even before I began writing Ten Cents a Dance, I knew it would have a strong romantic element. After all, writing a novel is a process of discovering the characters, and how better to discover a character than by throwing her into a complicated romantic situation? (Not to mention all the delicious fun that creates!) Also, a romantic relationship in a historical novel really brings the past alive for the reader. And with historical fiction, that’s what it’s all about: bringing the past alive.

How do characters in love do that? First, falling in love—especially first love—is intense. Everything you see and experience seems brand-new, as if it’s made just for you. When Ruby, the main character in Ten Cents a Dance, goes to the movies with her new boyfriend Paulie, the enormous theater with its red velvet lobby seems so much more romantic to her than it ever did before. The snacks that Paulie buys for her, the seats they choose in the back, the newsreels they kiss through… Ruby soaks it all in, and through her heightened senses, so does the reader. The reader experiences not just a love affair…but a love affair as it was back then, with all the giddy, gorgeous details of that world.

And then there are the characters who inhabit historical novels. Books aren’t written about the sweet ordinary folk who abide by society’s rules. Instead, they’re written about the people who break those rules. (Think of that love-obsessed minx, Scarlett O’Hara.) When romance is involved…well, let’s just say that lovers are people who have something to lose. Lovers will dare more, risk more, defy family and society, and do things they would never otherwise do, all in the name of their love. This immerses the reader in dilemmas that real people actually faced back in the day. (More delicious fun!)

Which brings up my last point. I don’t know about you, but when I was in school, I hated history. I wanted to like it. Really, I did. But memorizing lists of battles and Presidents left me cold. What I found, once I started researching this particular bit of history, is that textbooks leave out tons of stuff. Fascinating stuff. How a girl with a good sense of rhythm and a whole lot of moxie could earn more money dancing than she could working in a “respectable” job. How, in an age of segregation and discrimination, people of all races could go to certain nightclubs and mingle, date and dance with each other freely. How the outbreak of a world war affected everyone, rich and poor, down to the shoes they could buy and the food they could eat.

This is what historical fiction does best: shining a light into the shadowed, forgotten corners of history, the stories that are lost because they’re not “important enough” to be included in a textbook. The stories of people who lived before us, whose names we don’t know, but who loved intensely. Passionately. Stories that remind us that fashions and society and customs may change…but romance is timeless, and true love is immortal.


Christine has published two young adult novels: Tallulah Falls and Ten  
Cents a Dance, which was named a YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young  
Adults. She practices veterinary medicine part-time; the rest of the  
time, she's in her office, clacking away at the keyboard. She's  
currently working on her third YA novel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you have a great page here… today was my first time coming here.. I just happened to find it doing a google search. anyway, good post.. I’ll be bookmarking this page for sure.