Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the author of 24 historical fiction and non-fiction works and the winner of more than 53 literary accolades. More than 34,000 copies of her books have been sold. For a complete list of her books and awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clich├ęs and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight into historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Why I Write Historical Fiction - Guest Blogpost from Scott Amis

Joseph Scott Amis retired from a thirty-year professional and business career in 2004. He has since devoted his time to medieval and Crusades studies and writing historical fiction. Until recently, Scott was a writer and features editor at Real Crusades History. A native Texan, he lives in Dallas.


Good question.  In junior high and high school, my best subjects were English, history, languages, and art. This should have told me something, but I never once considered studying to become an artist, architect, writer, or historian, and I certainly didn’t want to be a dentist or a lawyer.

Off to college, and years spent muddling through stints in pre-med, anthropology, and fine arts. After nine years of “in and out”, I surfaced in the real world with a degree in architecture. This proved to be a late but wise career choice, and I married and settled in soon after. And finally, my mom was happy!

My wife and I are both readers, and, in the days before the internet and Amazon.com, our Saturdays were often spent at the public library. My interests inevitably ran to history and historical fiction; my wife’s, to biographies of famous people, both historical and pop-culture. As time went on, I found myself dreaming about writing a novel, but what to write? As a “dyed-in-the-wool” Southerner - both of my great-grandfathers fought for the South in the US Civil War - and as a “boomer” whose parents and their generation were directly involved in World War II, those legendary conflicts would seem to be my favorite choices.

But, by then, my reading was almost exclusively centered on medieval history and the Crusades, and the 2005 first release of Ridley Scott’s epic “Kingdom of Heaven”, though deeply flawed, seemed to light a spark. I was going to write a novel about the First Crusade!

Aware that this project would require meticulous research and development of a polished style, I began with a short story about an ongoing conflict between neighboring feudal polities in late eleventh century France. The story was successful for my purposes, and became the basis for a fictional account chronicling a young knight’s adventures in France, beginning with his coming of age in 1086 through 1095 and the eve of the First Crusade, and ultimately, ending with his death in the Kingdom of Jerusalem thirty years later.

Having read my share of Crusades novels and a fair sample of scholarly works, I opted for an atypical approach. Instead of beginning with armies of eager Crusaders setting out for the Holy Land, To Shine with Honor commences in 1086, nearly a decade before Pope Urban II delivered his immortal address to the noblemen, knights, and commoners assembled in a field outside of Clermont in November of 1095. Thus, I hoped to show the everyday lives and struggles of people of all social classes in the unsettled and dangerous world of late eleventh century France, and the circumstances which influenced some to become Crusaders.

By early 2010, I had a 900-page first manuscript, and, after numerous rounds of editing and revisions, the first volume of To Shine with Honor was published in summer of 2016 to unexpectedly positive reviews and surprising literary recognition. The second volume continues to be a work-in-progress. Find out more about To Shine with Honor at: (hotlink to amazon page).

Find out more about To Shine with Honor at: here.

Blog Host Helena P. Schrader is the author of 25 historical fiction and non-fiction books, eleven of which have one one or more awards. You can find out more about her, her books and her awards at: https://helenapschrader.com 

Her most recent release, Cold Peace, was runner-up for the Historical Fiction Company BOOK OF THE YEAR 2023 Award, as well as winning awards from Maincrest Media and Readers' Favorites. Find out more at: https://www.helenapschrader.com/cold-peace.html



1 comment: