February 16, 2019

10 Historical Fiction Settings Besides WWII

I love historical fiction. Primarily of the YA variety, but I've ventured into adult historical fic as well. While both have their own tropes (adult hf LOVES dual narration, often in dual timelines, and YA hf has a bunch of spunky protagonists that are probably not fully historically accurate), they also have one thing in common:

Their favorite setting is World War II.

And it's kind of boring at this point. There are only so many books you can read about WWII spies or pilots or people on the homefront. Besides, WWII spanned six years. There are thousands of years of world history that we could be setting stories in. There are thousands of places besides Paris, England, and the United States' East Coast. So why aren't we writing books set in those places?

I'm going to suggest time periods and places where more historical fiction (primarily YA) titles should be set. Of course there are probably at least a few books out there already for some of these, so please tell me about them! But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be more to balance out all the WWII titles. 

1. The Glorious Revolution
Or anything having to do with the tail end of the Stuart house in power in the U.K. The new movie, The Favourite, clearly proves that there's an interest in that period. Plus, it would be a nice balance to the focus on the Tudor period.

2. 1950s-1970s America
I'd love to see more books focusing on the Civil Rights Era, school integration, and the aftermath. Maybe this is just me, since I wrote a paper about it, but the repercussions are so fascinating and the students who led the fight are so inspiring.

3. Central/South America
There's very little contemporary fiction set south of the U.S. border anyways, but imagine what rich stories there could be in historical fiction. You have Simon Bolivar, the Incan Empire, and all of Mexico, just for starters. There are so many opportunities for #ownvoices novels, too.

4. The rest of the world during the Dark Ages
While much of Europe was in upheaval, India, the Arabian Peninsula, parts of Africa, the Mayan Empire, and many other places were having Golden Ages. So many people don't realize this because it's hardly touched on in history classes and there are so few (if any) fiction books about it.

5. Muslim Spain
One of my history classes briefly touched on this period, but it brought about some of the most stunning architecture in the world and so much more.

6. Colonial America
Colonial America is ripe for book settings, since it came with so much unknown and adventure.

7. Japan
Most calls for East Asian books focus on China and even Korea to an extent, so I'd love to see more, especially historical fiction, set in Japan. (Bonus points if it's written by #ownvoices authors.)

8. Universities
I guess this would have to be more historical fantasy-based than historical, because I want to see all the super cool ladies studying at universities and changing the world in history-inspired settings. For example, it's highly likely that Fatima al-Fihri founded the oldest university in the world. Why is that not being used as fodder for more novels??

9. Other wars
Like I said, most historical fiction seems to focus on World War II (and even World War I). What about the Vietnam War, all the revolutions in Europe during the 1800s, the Boer War, the Thirty Years' War, the Sino-Japanese Wars... if war is such an interesting starting point for fiction, then writers need to be more creative and pick something other than the World Wars.

10. The things I don't even know about
Despite minoring in history and being a self-professed history geek, there's still so much I don't know. So authors, use your niche knowledge to create awesome historical fiction set some place and some time other than WWII, WWI, and, for the most part, England, France, and the United States.

What time periods and settings would you like to see more of in historical fiction?

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