The Origins of Historical Fiction

Oscar’s Gift Reading Guide: Day 18

The Origins of Historical Fiction

For today’s post in the Reading Guide series, I want to forward you to a couple of guest pieces I did soon after Oscar’s Gift was first published:

In an interview I did for Laura Stanfill, whose “seven questions” author interviews are a fascinating glimpse into how a variety of writers approach their work and writing life, I respond to questions about turning historical fact into historical fiction and the experience of self-publishing.

“The book is definitely a work of fiction, not a biography, but woven through it are the threads of history.

One example is a scene where Tomas’s family and Oscar attend a barn dance. Micheaux biographer Patrick McGilligan has written that Oscar would attend dances where he ‘mingled more with the children, amusing them by singing, according to colloquial accounts, the schottische “Any Rags,” popularized at the turn of the century.’ I learned from the director of the Oscar Micheaux Center, Jerry Wilske, that ‘Oscar was a good dancer and singer. Women wanted to dance with him and have their daughters dance with him, but he declined because of the unwritten law of mixing socially and romantically with white females.’ That latter aspect is fascinating background knowledge but not really appropriate for a middle-grade story.” Read More

In a guest post on “Ketch’s Book Nook” (by writer and book blogger Kelsey Ketch), I muse on the ineffable topic of where fiction comes from and the surprising coincidences and convergences that can lead to new stories.

“Here’s what writing Oscar’s Gift taught me: When writing any stories, but especially historical fiction, we can take the time to fill ourselves with as much background information about our characters and settings as we can. We can learn to trust our curiosity compass and sense of fun to let us know when something is interesting and worth pursuing further (even when it veers a bit off track). We can refuse to rush an idea while at the same time continuing to work on it. All of this allows us to write from a place in the center of it all, surrounded by rich ideas and content just within our reach, ours for the taking.” Read More

Be sure to spend some time browsing both Laura’s and Kelsey’s sites for author interviews and book reviews.

Click HERE for the full Oscar’s Gift Reading Guide.

Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux is available from Amazon as a paperback and ebook.

New Oscar Cover


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