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 clichés 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 30, 2024

Why I Write Historical Fiction - A Guest Entry from Samantha Wilcoxson

 Samantha Wilcoxson writes emotive biographical fiction that enables readers to connect with history's unsung heroes. She also writes nonfiction for Pen & Sword History. Besides reading and writing, Samantha loves sharing trips to historic places with her family and spending time by the lake with a glass of wine. Her most recent work is But One Life, a novelization of the life of American patriot Nathan Hale, and a new biography of James Alexander Hamilton is coming soon.

 

We have so much to learn from the past. In a society obsessed with the future and supposed progress, it is tempting to dismiss those who have come before us and brought us to where we are. Perhaps we believe we have moved beyond their lessons and old-fashioned ways, but I find evidence almost every day that we can benefit from deeper study.

When I select a historical figure to write about, my objective is to tell their story in a way that enables modern readers to connect with them as a well-known friend and abolish the distance between the now and then. I hope to inspire readers to contemplate the values and character of the people in my stories with the desire to take on some of those positive attributes themselves. Of course, I encourage readers to appreciate the past and those who persevered through circumstances that we cannot imagine coping with ourselves.

Historical figures also made mistakes, sometimes unbelievably profound ones, and we can learn from those too. How can we expect to avoid the errors of the past if we do not know about them? Will some of what we read make us uncomfortable? I certainly hope so. When we think critically about decisions and actions of the past, we should also look at our own the same way.

People of the past share the universal human experience with us. We might think ourselves quite different from them, but we hold in common the most substantial parts of life, such as love, family, and friendship. They endured tragedy and heartbreak, just as we sometimes do. Their perseverance often resulted in our ability to avoid hardships that they were forced to cope with.

Catherine Donohue is a beautiful example of this. She was an ordinary young woman who loved her family and her church until her job at Radium Dial changed everything. Catherine’s medical struggle with radium poisoning was horrid enough, but she also insisted on taking up the legal battle with her employer to take responsibility for the sick and dying women they dismissed. A quiet, small-town girl became a heroic woman who can serve as an inspiration to us all, even as she lost her personal fight to survive. I alternated between wonder, sadness, and anger as I wrote her story in Luminous.

Women like Catherine are the reason I write historical fiction. I want people to remember her, connect with her, and feel inspired by her. Each of my novels features a person with a profound story to tell, one that I could not resist writing.

My most recent novel, But One Life, takes readers back to the American Revolution and the life of a young man only vaguely remembered today. Did he really say that he regretted he had but one life to give for his country before being hanged as a spy by the British? Maybe, but what life journey had created a young man willing to make such a sacrifice? I wanted to know – and wanted my readers to know – more about Nathan Hale and his short, tragic life.

I hope my readers agree that I write historical fiction to share the emotions and experiences of those who have gone before us. May their lives enrich our own just as our stories will hopefully one day encourage and inform those still to come.

 

 

Find out more about Samatha Wilcoxson's books at: https://amazon.com/author/samanthawilcoxson



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