Tuesday, October 11

A Touch of History

I'm considering writing a historical.

After years of writing contemporary suspense, a historical western is calling my name.

I grew up in history, literally. My parents ran dude horses out of the 150 year old stable in downtown Ouray, Colorado, for 35 years, then my sister did for another five. From the time I could ride, I spent my days in that old building. There are original posters on the walls, old tack and buggies in the building. Ghosts of the men and mules who toiled to carry the silver out of the mountains fill the old place.

Ouray (pronounced U-ray) is living history. It's a mining town, full of old buildings, and many descendants of settlers who came here mostly from Italy to mine the gold and silver in the mountains still live there.

Not too far away is Silverton and Telluride, with similar backgrounds.

History has never been my "thing". My daughter is a history major in college, and she loves it.

So why write a historical now?

I loathe research. Bleh. Kick me in the leg; I'd rather.

I can't find the kind of westerns I want to read. There are a few, but I picked up everything our bookstore had and was left wanting more. So I turned to historicals. I've really been enjoying reading the western ones. I like a good regency, too, but the westerns have been especially good.

Do I want to spend the next 4-6 months on a sub-genre that I'm not that familiar with? Is the story idea I have strong enough to carry a whole manuscript? I'm not sure.

I'm curious if any of you have changed directions and sub-genres, and what your results were?


  1. Love historical's! Scottish highlander historical is the genre I started writing in and still long to write, but like you, I don't want to do the research. Sounds like you have most of what you need right there in your history. I say go for it! If that story is calling you, write it! And send it to me when it's done so I can read it :)

  2. My first 2 books were contemporary romances and then I decided to try something else and went for an historical. I had fun writing it. But I'm weird - I like to do research.
    Give it a go - you'll never know if you like it until you try it.

  3. I have switched genre's so many times! I write anything from contemporary, suspense, paranormal, Young adult, horror, thriller. I've always been that way. I guess because I like such a variety that it shows in my writing, too.

    I agree on the research part. Bleh!

    All ou can do is try it and see where it takes you. You might be surprised at how you feel while writing it.

  4. I write what I write. I'll fit it in somewhere when I'm done. Generally I write Fantasy, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, my voice changes for each genre.

  5. I'd definitely read a historical western - they're my faves, too! I cut my reading teeth on Louis L'Amour (I know, not romance, straight western)...

    I changed sub-genres a while back - I'd been trying to write romantic suspense and it just wasn't working. So I threw a couple of non-suspense ideas in a hat and let my imagination roam. I've never regretted it. Maybe someday I'll get back to suspense...but I've found my voice is really fit to contemporary, so I'm happy where I've landed.

  6. I think a good shake up is good for the writing soul. Go for it! You might surprise yourself and isn't that what we crave most of all? Well, besides the million dollar deal and sitting opposite Matt Lauer on the Today show.

  7. I started with history, because that's where my academic background is, and I like research: first a time travel and then a historical, both set in 1870s Texas. Haven't managed to sell either one.

    Now I'm back to writing light paranormal, but I'm not really changing genres, I just have one foot in each. Waiting patiently for the market for Western American Historical Romantic Comedy to appear!

    D'Ann, it sounds like you have so much local material to play with--go for it! None of us really know what's going to work for us until it bites us on the nose.

  8. I write historical because I love them and am a historian but I understand about the research. I know 19th Victorian really good and enough Regency to get into trouble but I'm dying to write Ancient Rome and even started it but going to have to do a LOT research. Write historical paranormal which was fun but contemp? Uncomfortable there so Rome wins!

  9. I think that what ever calls to you - you must write. I write contemporary and paranormal. I may write a historical western that won't leave my mind either. Yes the research will be hard, but it will make my love for writing and learning happy. (I'm weird LOL)

    Honestly, I think that it makes the author more interesting if I can read more from them.

    I read Lisa Kleypas and Lauren Dane and they always switch - it just make me love them more.

  10. I've never really set myself in one genre--the one I prefer is paranormal romance, but if a story idea comes to me and it is in a different genre, then I'll write it. I do write lots of short stories and only one of them is romance.
    Give your historical story idea a chance. You may surprise the heck out of yourself.
    Oh, and I'm with you, research gives me a massive headache...

  11. D'Ann,

    I think if you're feeling the need to change to a historical subgenre despite not wanting to research, go for it. Your muse is obviously wanting you too and if it's not for you then oh well at least you can't say you didn't try. As for research, make your daughter do it, you can ask her questions and being a history major, she'll be able to help you find the answers even if it's not her area of expertise. When I started writing I only planned on doing rom-sup and contemp, but paranormal called my name. I struggle with worldbuilding a bit, but otherwise I'm glad I decided to make the change. I say go for it!

  12. I write whatever story in me that's dying to be heard. If I don't write it, it will bug me until I do. However, there's a pudgy kid named, Neal in my head who i can't get to shut up. I don't write middle grade!

  13. I've never change genres, but if you want to do it, go for it. Research can be really interesting if it's a subject you like.


  14. Hi, D'Ann,

    I'd say stick with what you enjoy writing. You know the saying: you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself.

  15. I love Ouray. We use to ride the bikes from Durango over into Silverton then Ouray and stay for a week enjoying the hot springs and the people. Had the best times and all the old buildings in those towns not to mention the train ride.

    With that said, I think you should go for it. Yes I'm new to writing and everything but if you can't find what you want to read, imagine all the others who are in the same boat. I don't feel the genre's are law. Look at the paranormal, urban fantasy and some chick lit books. They can all be interchanged so why can't historical and westerns.

    When I was a kid I read all the state books(Utah, Montana, Neveda, etc.). Not sure who wrote them, it was a lot of years ago, but what I remember about them was they were western, with history and romance thrown in. Wonder what genre they should have been in.

  16. I'm finishing up on a paranormal romantic suspense. Does that count as a change?

  17. Historical is a GREAT choice!!
    I truly believe you gotta write what calls at you.:)

  18. I say go for it D'Ann...you might find your niche!
    I've always written contemporary or light suspense and that's what I enjoy, but if I ever felt the desire to try a western, historical, horror...I'd jump right in. Something inside of you is pushing you forward. Even if you don't finish it, you'll have learned something by trying it.
    Good Luck!

  19. Good questions! I switched from writing western historical to western historical werewolf and then contemporary werewolf. I've had so much fun with the werewolf characters that I continue to write contemporary werewolf. But that doesn't mean I won't pick up an historical to write. I love to read historical and regency. I still have a few ideas in my files for those stories. I say write what you enjoy writing. :-)

  20. I wite whatever story pops into my mind. I am a panster all the way. EXCEPT the one I'm working on now. Even then I didn't plot it was an idea I put into a summary format and began writing. I've rewritten it so many times but I made myself stop and finish it. I did that in May. NOW I am rewriting and revising. I read all genres so I don't mind writing them. BUt research isn't bad to me I love historicals for the fact that it is all out there to dig up and find out what you want to know.
    Kathy Crouch

  21. I love switching it up. I've read agents don't like it when you do that, but I like to read more than one thing, so it stands to reason I would write more than one. Until I'm published I don't have to worry what my agent and fans want.LOL I've written a horror/zombie, a christian historical about a bounty hunter set in CA, a time travel to scottland, and even a contempory werewolf. SO ther you go. But the key is I love to do the research. right down to even printing old maps of the area. It like putting together a puzzle that your story will eventually stand on . I'm a sick freak. I loved doing research papers in school too. But I think once you start writting it D'Ann you won't mind the research becasue you want to know your charcters intamtly and that means knowing what they had for breakfast and how it got to the table. Have fun. When it ceases to be fun, you will have your answer. Brenda L

  22. WRITE ONE! I'm dying for a great historical western!
    And I'm bad to give any advice-I write historical, contemp, paranormal. I haven't decided which I like more. Just certain stories call and I have to change the dates. ;)
    Good luck! I know whatever you choose you will excel-research and all!

  23. Hi D'Ann ~ I say start to write it and see how you feel.

    I started a a western/time-travel (lots of research!), took a break and wrote a kids book, then completed my paranormal (more research)! Go figure.

    I loved the first and last the best. Who says you can't write both genres? I know you're a great writer and I have complete faith that whatever you write...it'll be fantastic!

  24. I'm a little late joining this one, lol, but thought I'd jump in anyway.

    I started with contemporary then ventured into paranormal. The result? A very rough MS that I hated but threw out to the wolves anyway. The result of that decision? A complete re-write of said hated MS.

    :) I don't think I'd switch again. Contemporary's what I know, paranormal's what I'm getting to know. I like these two so I think I'll stick with them.

    But I'll read a historical any day! So... When yours is ready, let me know and I'll read it! I've yet to find one I don't like.

  25. Thank you, everyone, for coming by! I appreciate the help and insight into changing genres!

  26. I think to keep the excitement in what you write you need to write in the genre that is calling to you. As you've seen, I write historical, contemporary, western, paranormal, and am moving into mystery.

  27. I write historicals because I LOVE doing research. It just seemed a perfect fit. But then I literally fell into writing erotic contemporary (research needed but of a different kind LOL)which seems weird to me. But if the story is there, and I feel the need to write it, I'm gonna write it.

    I love the premise you suggested the other day, D'Ann. Would love to see it 6 months from now.

    Have you read any Gem Sivad? She's on SSS and I've downloaded her Quincy's Woman (western historical) just on the strength of her six sentences each week. Can't wait to have tome to read it.

    Loved your post. :)

  28. There's no law that says you have to finish it if you start a story and can't get into it. The time spent wouldn't be wasted because you'd still be able to draw from the experience. I think your voice would work well in a western historical and I love your idea.

  29. Right there with you on the research thing. I HATE it. But I would change genres if an idea grabbed me.