Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making Historicals Relevant by Ann Shorey

Historicals are very popular with today’s readers. What are the reasons? Is it because readers like to escape to another place and time? Is it because they have a huge interest in what transpired before our time? Both reasons are very likely, but I think we could include another reason. The fact that people have experienced the same hurts, desires, and joys since the beginning of time. Today, we welcome author Ann Shorey, as she shares her thoughts on making historials relevant to readers.

Making Historicals Relevant to Today's Women

I’m so glad Dawn asked me to share tips on making historical novels relevant to today’s women. Women’s issues are a passion of mine! Divorce, death, infidelity, infertility, you name it. My main suggestion is to choose an issue that faces today’s women and decide how you can place that dilemma in a historical context.

As I plot my historical novels, I ask myself, “How would these situations translate to the lives of today’s women?” Today’s issues are worked into each book.

In researching my family history I came across references to many of my female ancestors who were faced with situations that affect women today. Of course, a hundred and fifty years ago their lives were completely different than ours in the sense that they lacked the recourses and resources available today. However, the problems were the same. That’s what sparked my interest in writing about yesterday’s women. I wanted to discover how they would have handled those issues.

In my first novel, The Edge of Light, protagonist Molly McGarvie’s husband dies (the back cover tells you that, so I’m not spoiling anything!), leaving her with young children to raise. This is a situation that faces countless women today, either through the death of their spouse or divorce. As I wrote about how Molly handled her life change, I was mindful of today’s women. Her choices were made in part by the times, but also through God’s timeless guidance. That never changes.

The problems raised in The Promise of Morning, the second novel in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, come about through different set of circumstances. Ellie Craig’s husband makes choices that affect the entire family. As a result, temptations arise, both for Ellie and to another woman in the story. Those temptations are as real today as they were then. How we, as women, chose to deal with them provide a sub-context in the story. Again, I wrote with today’s women in mind. Many of us have experienced major upheavals because our spouse took a new job, lost the one he had, or just plain made a bad decision.

I’m happy to answer questions about writing historicals, or any other writing related matter. Please leave a comment here and feel free to contact me through my website, You’ll find my book review blog there, too.

ANN SHOREY has been a story collector for most of her life. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, released in January 2009. When she’s not writing, she teaches classes on historical research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals at regional conferences. Ann lives with her husband in Sutherlin, Oregon. The Promise of Morning is the second book in her At Home in Beldon Grove series.
Contact Ann through her website at


  1. Hi Dawn! Thanks for featuring me on your beautiful blog today.

  2. I guess I never thought of it before...linking the past to the present. But as I think through my MS, I can see how the matters of the heart and the issues of faith have not changed. My character could have been living her issues out in today's world too. I will look at it a little differently now. Thanks

  3. Although I love Ann Shorey, I found that "A Promise of Morning" to be emotionally difficult.

    Being a Pastor’s wife myself, I find myself overly sensitive to the depiction of Pastors and their families. I did not enjoy the character of Pastor Matthew and did not like how he was such a “bull in a china shelf” and created judgements of others so quickly.

    If you're interested, I have more to say on my site at



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