Join the Adventure Giveaway

Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel the Fictional Globe

When you read, do you like to travel to another time and place? I do. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things. I’ve traveled all over the globe to almost every time in history, and whether I’ve met with an African slave, a Roman noblewoman, or an Arabian sheik, it’s always an enlightening adventure. Most of what I know about history, I’ve learned from fiction books.

So I was surprised to discover that at least in Christian publishing, historical books set in America are far more in demand than those set in other countries. The most popular are the so called “bonnet books.” No offense to those American books, I’ve read and enjoyed many of them, but I’m ready to branch out and broaden my horizons!

It’s not so much that Christian publishers don’t want to support books set in other countries, it’s just that at the end of the day they are businesses, and businesses produce what sells. Evidently, in the Christian market readers are looking more for comfort and familiarity than exotic adventures. Why do you think that is? I know plenty of adventurous Christians. Are they adventurous enough that they’re reading secular books and not looking for Christian messages, or have they simply looked elsewhere because Christian publishers weren’t meeting their needs? I can’t help but think they would enjoy reading Christian novels if the types that interested them were available. Sounds like it may be a bit of a vicious cycle.

When I sat down and pondered the setting for my debut novel, the first thought that crossed my mind was, I want a time before the Reformation, a time when everyone was Christian, yet Christianity was set in an entirely different context. I decided on England, because it was the country in Europe I’d spent the most time visiting and because I have family roots there. Once the plot came to me, I realized I needed a time when feudalism still lingered, but cities and the middle class were emerging. Finally, I needed to open in the year of a famine. I landed on Southern England 1315.

So years later, I have a great book and discover that there’s not such a great market for it. But, I’m pleased to announce that I just got the list of ACFW Book of the Year Finalists. I noticed that several of the finalists are set in Europe. Could the tide be turning? Or is it just that European historical fiction writers have to work twice as hard to get their books published and therefore turn out exceptional products?

I am actually acquainted with several of the authors through the “Hiswriters” historical email loop. Hiswriters is a group of authors who write inspirational European historical fiction. Recently, a number of the Hiswriters have banned together and formed HEWN, Historical European Writers Network. We have committed to getting out the word about European historical novels. The market does seem to be opening to books set in the 1500’s-1800’s. The medieval period is still hard to sell, but perhaps people are slowly working their way out of their comfort zones to times and places farther and farther from their own. Could medieval be the next big wave?

I’m hopeful that my book will find a market. I think the tide is turning. What do you think about European historicals? Do you prefer books set in America, or do you like to travel to new places? What about the medieval period? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I just finished my first book and am doing my first edits! It is a medieval set in the 1100's, England. It is probably more fluff than historically deep, but I love the era of knights and chivalry. I am hoping by the time I get this writing thing down and work through a few more manuscripts, the market will have opened for more European historicals!

  2. My agent is hard at work finding creative options for where to place medievals. Maybe we'll have some tips for you by then.

  3. I love early New England settings. But, regency England is another favorite!