First, the lovely Anne Whitfield has nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award! Thanks, Anne! I’ll soon be nominating some blogs myself (if I don’t soon, give me a virtual conk on the head). This leads me naturally to:
Second, for a while I’ve had a Squidoo Lens on Reading Historical Fiction, which I’ve just got around to updating. My question is, do you know of any historical fiction blogs that I’ve missed? I’m not looking for blogs dedicated to a particular author, or author blogs where the author focuses mainly on his or her own writing, or writing-oriented blogs, or blogs that only occasionally discuss historical fiction, but blogs that review primarily historical fiction or post interviews with a variety of historical novelists. If you have one that I’ve left out, just let me know!
Third, Sharon Penman has been answering reader questions over at Library Thing, and she made a comment that intrigued me, “I don’t feel comfortable reading how another writer has treated historical figures I think of as ‘mine.'” Now, I know many other authors feel the same way as Penman, but I’m the polar opposite: I love seeing how other authors treat historical people I’m writing about or have written about. This is just sheer compulsiveness on my part: once I become interested in a historical figure, I want to read everything about him or her, and I haven’t the strength of character to resist simply because he or she’s a person I happen to be writing about.
Many novelists, of course, avoid reading other fictional treatments of their characters because they don’t want to risk unconsciously plagiarizing someone else’s work. That’s the most compelling argument to me in favor of abstinence, though in my completed novels, this wasn’t a great risk for me because my main characters figured into other novels only as supporting characters or as villains. With my novel in progress this is more of a concern, because my heroine is the heroine of other published novels. It’s not a great concern, because the authors of the books in question differ from me greatly in style, and I will be taking a different slant on some events and giving prominent roles to certain supporting characters who play more background roles in the other novels I’ve seen.
I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this, though: if you’re a writer, do you avoid reading other fictional treatments of your characters? And if you’re a reader, once you’ve read and liked a fictional portrayal of a historical character, do you prefer to keep that picture unsullied by other portrayals? Or are you a character junkie like me, who will keep on reading everything you can about that character?