Written by James Alexander Thom
Published by Writers Digest Books
Review by Natasha Buckler
Books devoted to the craft of writing historical fiction are rare, making the discovery of James Alexander Thom’s newly published guide a wonderful treat. Author of such novels as Follow the River and From Sea to Shining Sea, Thom writes with authority and wit about the process of researching and writing the historical novel. Thom distinguishes between the “bodice ripper” and the well-researched historical novel, and argues for the respectability of the novelist who has completed thorough research, rather than simply relying upon imaginative intuition.
Thom explores various aspects of the process, including research, writing, and—perhaps most importantly—mistakes to avoid in an historical novel. He treats the profession of historical novelist with creativity and courage; for example, he offers personal anecodotes about building a log cabin using the same materials and methods of colonial frontiersmen. Thom’s methods combine traditional research with unusual proceedings, and the mixture proves irresistible.
Thom’s writing lends comfort and encouragement to the historical fiction writer, whatever the stage of their career. Using personal anecdotes and examples, Thom creates a guide both useful and fun to read. Those who have been looking for guidance and encouragement regarding historical fiction will certainly shout “Huzzah!”
Natasha Buckler is a high school English teacher currently finishing her Master’s degree in English. She is working on her first historical novel set during the American Revolution.