Much is said about the value of writers deciding on a genre and sticking to it so that readers know what to expect and get what they expect when they choose an author or a book. It never seemed to be an issue for me as I’ve always loved historical fiction and also loved to write it. My family ancestry and love of Australian history seemed to be the perfect inspiration for my novels.
However, lately I’ve had some questions about the genre of my writing. Two things have sparked this rumination for me. Firstly, I’ve joined a couple of on line Historical Fiction groups, and been intrigued and a bit disappointed to find that so many of the readers are drawn to pre Australian colony history, such as the royals of England or battles from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It seems almost that Australian colonial history is too young to rate.
Secondly, I recently attended a writer’s conference and heard speakers talking about the growing trend in ‘rural’ fiction; the apparent attraction of Australian rural settings, small town conflicts and romances, girls on horseback swinging stock whips etc. I came home and downloaded quite a few on my Kindle and have been working my way through them. I find them quite enjoyable; mostly standard romances but the girls wear riding breeches and can round up cattle or hold their own in the local horse races, rather than being dressed in gorgeous gowns or holding their own in the board room.
The popularity of TV series such as McCloud’s Daughters seems to back up this fascination for country life. Is it that it appeals to readers and viewers because it represents the ‘sea change, back to nature’ dreams that many city dwellers have? Or is it that writers and film makers are acknowledging that many more country people read because they are not so distracted by city recreations?
I’m not sure about any of that, but I have been wondering whether I ought to ‘rebrand’. As I listened to what speakers listed as elements of rural novels - small town interrelationships and intrigues, coming home themes, animals, fighting the elements, local history of towns, strong female protagonists – I wondered if my novels would fit better into this genre than into historical fiction. Australian colonial development, the issues faced by those on the land, the kind of work required, the struggle to survive against the elements, the relationships, intrigues and conflicts of people in small communities, seem hardly to have changed in 200 years in this country. As I write my stories I’m very aware that some current news broadcasts about agricultural life and the issues rural people face could be included my stories.
I'm not sure how much ‘rural’ fiction any of you read, or how much you've seen with any Christian content, but would be interested to read your thoughts about it. Is it more attractive than historical fiction? Does an escape into a rural setting appeal more than an escape into history? Can the two be combined effectively?
Carol’s novels are based on her family ancestry in Australia from the First Fleet and include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novel Suzannah’s Gold has been re-released by EBP and will soon be followed by the re-release of its sequel, Rebecca’s Dream. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website www.carolpreston.com.au