Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fiction Set in the Past

My latest novel for young readers, Growing Up Ivy, is labelled Historical Fiction by the publisher. But is it? Canadian author Joan Thomas, writing in Quill & Quire (July/August, 2010), suggests that a story like mine, (and her own two, by her own admission) is instead, "fiction set in the past."

According toThomas's article, Avrom Fleishman outlined, in the 1970s, certain criteria for historical fiction: that the story be set at least two generations prior to the writing of the book, and that it be about real people in history.

Ivy's story, set in the 1930s, would not make the cut by either count. Ivy Chalmers never lived, except in my imagination and, I hope, on the pages of the book. To tell her story, nonetheless, involved considerable research about life in Ontario during the Great Depression. But I think I like calling it "fiction set in the past." It's a term both of us can live with; Ivy and I.

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