Posts from ‘Historical Fiction’
Over at A Writer of History I have been working hard to publish information about the historical fiction survey I conducted. When I began this process, I had no idea of the amount of effort required to sift through results and draw meaningful information for readers, writers and others. For example, how long do you think it might take to analyze 567 written responses to a question about favourite digital sites for recommendations or 602 responses to another question on favourite authors?
Here’s the journey so far:
- The first post considered the locations of those who responded. Although dominated by individuals from the US, the survey drew a mixed crowd from all around the world. How the survey travelled from North America to Europe and Asia is somewhat of a mystery to me.
- The second post – Readers Share their Perspectives – offered a range of results from reading habits and preferred historical time periods to methods of purchase and the print versus ebook question.
- Other posts followed: Reasons not to Read Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction would be Better If, Where Readers Find Recommendations in the non-digital realm and Connecting Readers and Writers in the digital realm.
- Top Authors went up in two different posts last week because I had to make a correction (check here and here), and this week I posted She Says, He Says highlighting male and female differences.
With the business of writing in mind, I now need to consider two questions: what have I learned and what will I do with the information.
No answers yet but I’ll be back.
Over at A Writer of History, I just published the first report from a survey of 805 readers on the topic of historical fiction. Below are a few general observations. The full report contains many more.
- THE PAST FASCINATES. Almost 75% of respondents read more than 25% historical fiction.
- SEX: Women and men differ significantly in their views of historical fiction.
- AGE: Those under 30 have different preferences for genre and time period and have different patterns of consumption and acquisition.
- GOING ONLINE: Social media and online sites play a very significant role for those consuming historical fiction.
- GEOGRAPHY: A reader’s geographic location has less affect than we might expect on preferences.
- EDUCATION: Readers of historical fiction are very well educated: 46% have university degrees, 40.5% have completed graduate school.
- EARLY HABITS: Those introduced to historical fiction in childhood continue to read it at high volumes.
I will continue to analyze and publish further details on both blogs.
AN OPEN REQUEST TO READERS AND VISITORS …
After researching the reasons why people read historical fiction for a blog post, and finding almost nothing, I decided to create a survey to discover more about those who read historical fiction and those who do not – demographics, story preferences, favourite time periods, reasons for reading or not reading this genre, sources of recommendations in this digital world of ours and so on.
As readers, would you please take a few minutes to complete the survey? It doesn’t matter whether you read historical fiction or not because I’d like to hear from as wide a range as possible. And if possible, to add to the robustness of data collected, please pass the survey URL along to friends of all reading interests, ages and in any part of the world you can reach!
Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LNM7DKQ
Sap – the extension of a trench to a point between an enemy’s fortifications
Sapper – a military specialist in field fortification work
“One of the most notable episodes [of sapping] was at the Battle of Messines in 1917 where 455 tons of explosive placed in 21 tunnels that had taken more than a year to prepare created a huge explosion that killed an estimated 10,000 Germans.” Source BBC News
Miners were very valuable to WWI effort. If you’ve read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks you will know the intimate details of how sappers lived and worked. Brutal.
Of course, one ever present concern was being blown up by enemy sappers doing exactly the same work. They heard one another tap, tap tapping away and even heard the sound of voices.
Agar Adamson includes in letters to his wife, Mabel, a document titled ACTION TO BE TAKEN IF MINING NOISES ARE HEARD attributed to 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade and dated 2nd January 1916. Armies are notorious for having detailed instructions and regulations concerning every aspect of military life. One section of that document caught my eye – Noises alleged to be German Mining on this Corps Front have been actually tracked to:
- sentries stamping their feet
- rats working on a parapet
- a loose beam or branch tapping when blowing by the wind
- running water
- beat of a man’s own heart
- a half dead fly buzzing at the bottom of a hole. N.B. this was mistaken for a machine drill
- actual mining, sometimes our own
Clearly, sapping was a nerve-wracking business.
No, this is not a post about Christmas 1914 when German and British soldiers made nice across the barbed wire. Instead, I have pulled together a few bits from Agar Adamson’s letters to his wife describing Christmas 1915 preparations and events.
December 21, 1915
Agar writes to Mabel from La Clytte eight kilometres west of Ypres that he received a plum cake from a Manchester cake shop sent with the compliments of the Toronto Board of Trade and that Princess Patricia (Agar serves with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) has sent a telegram of good cheer while someone else has sent sweets and crackers. Nonetheless, they are badly off for food and Agar plans to get a few small barrels of beer from the brewery in Dickebusch.
December 23, 1915
“As I have a room, I have asked Gray, Cornish, Stewart, Mackenzie, Stanley Martin and my two subalterns to dinner on Xmas day and to bring with them their own knives, forks, spoons, plates and cups and food. We dine at 6 as the three old people turn in at 8.”
Xmas Day 1915
“Canadian Comforts [note: a relief organization for soldiers in the field] sent each man, from the ladies in Canada, a job lot of parcels. They were not all the same, so we divided them up among the platoons. (1) a magazine and 10 cigarettes, (2) a pair of socks, 1 of chewing gum. 1 package cards, 1 package soup, (3) a package of chewing gum and a handkerchief, (4) a pack of cards, cigarettes, soup, (5) 4 ozs tobacco, 50 cigarettes, (6) a pipe, soup, 1 handkerchief, (7) a cardboard wallet with envelopes, and paper for each man, (8) handkerchiefs and pack of cards, (9) 80 half-pound boxes of chocolates.”
Midnight Xmas Day
“I gave up my rooms at Noon to the Servants for lunch, 4 bottles of red wine, 3 chickens and any grub they could find in our box. In the evening I gave the room to my Sergeants … gave them 4 chickens and 6 bottles of sweet champagne and some cigarettes. Stewart managed to borrow a car on the 24th and went to General Headquarters and brought back 4 chickens and two ducks with sardines, soup, your plum pudding, some cheese, we fed 17 officers… the artillery was quiet on both sides all day.”
At least they didn’t spend Christmas in the trenches that year.