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"Learning from Historical Fiction: A Family Tale Reveals a" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2024 5:13 p.m. PST

…Brief Multicultural Moment of the American West


"Historians may well wonder what drives a creative writer to plunge into a previously unknown period to produce that peculiar hybrid: the "historical novel." We historical novelists often ask ourselves the same question—usually right as we start trying to wrestle masses of factual detail into story form. Every project appeals for different reasons. Yet I have found the same thing happening in each dive into a new historical period. Whether the subject is the power politics of the medieval church, postwar Germany or the colonizing of the American West, the act of researching and writing a historical novel is a crash course in a portion of the past that helps me—and with luck my readers—gain new perspectives on the world.


My latest novel, The Shining Mountains, the story of a Scots-Nez Perce family caught in the crossfire of Western expansion, was particularly rich in this regard. The novel's themes could not be more pertinent: Americans today are acutely conscious both of how history is told and of hearing voices from cultures long marginalized. The novel is a tale of the multicultural world that existed before American settlement of the West which includes indigenous points of view…"

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