Today I got a card from eBay thanking me for seven years of doing business with it, which reminded me of my first eBay purchase: Francie, Barbie’s Mod cousin, issued in the mid-1960’s. This happened around my 40th birthday, an event that in my mother’s case inspired her to dye her hair blond and acquire a canary. I’d look pretty silly as a blonde, and a canary wouldn’t last long around our four cats, so I ended up going on eBay and acquiring one of my favorite childhood dolls, which led to more acquisitions. Here’s Francie on the left with Barbie in the center and Stacey (Barbie’s British friend)on the right:
I don’t buy many Barbies these days, but before I eased up I had succeeded in replacing many of my childhood dolls, all of which had been stolen from my parents’ house years ago. (Barbie thieves, there’s a little pink circle in hell meant especially for you.) I bought new Barbies too, including this Barbie and Midge, who feature on my website redressed in other Barbie clothes as two of my characters, Queen Isabella and Eleanor de Clare. (Isabella’s the blond Barbie, Eleanor the redheaded Midge.)
So what does this have to do with historical fiction, you might ask? Only this: I credit Barbie with my development as a writer, for long before I could write stories on paper, I was enacting them using Barbie and her friends, who became characters in an ongoing drama that lasted well into my 11th year. As my female dolls greatly outnumbered my male dolls, this occasionally affected my storylines–but just as with historical fiction you have to work within the known facts, with the Barbie world, you have to work within there being only so many Kens to go around.