Monday, March 5, 2012

Haley Whitehall - Historical Fiction Author

I'm pleased and honored to have Haley Whitehall guest posting today. Haley has wonderful news to share with us, but first she's going to tell us a little about herself.
Okay, take it away, Haley:

Why Historical Fiction?

Many people have asked me why I write historical fiction. The simple answer is because I love history and historical fiction is a natural fit. But, there is more to it than that. I want to do more than entertain with my stories; I want to teach.

I think historical fiction is one of the most misunderstood genres. Historical fiction is not the same thing as the dry history textbook you read in high school. Historical fiction is more than just the facts. That is where the fiction comes in ;)

Many people fell asleep in history class. Ever watched the Jaywalking segment on the Tonight Show? It is amazing how little some people know about history. Okay it is more than amazing; it is downright scary.

I hope historical fiction can help fill in the holes! I want to put my B.A in history to work.

Writing historical fiction, I can bring history to life. I happen to be drawn to the nineteenth century U.S. The Civil War, Pony Express, Oregon Trail, cowboys on the Chrisom Trail… I love it all. I love imagining the landscape dry, dusty, and dreary or bright, beautiful and blossoming. I have the power to bring the terrible troubles of a war torn country to life or the triumphs of a nation celebrating peace and prosperity.

I throw my fictional characters into true historical conflicts. Each character has a set of traits: strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, habits. I watch my characters struggle and grow in this historical setting. Perhaps, I’m a little bit like a mad scientist.

I base my fictional characters on a combination of real people, although most are unknown in popular history. Some historical fiction writers choose to write fictional events in the life of famous authentic historical people, but I like to tell the story of the common man. I like to expose untold or little known historical stories or events. It is like one of those Dateline stories that uncover the truth. I dig deep for my stories.

My debut novel Living Half Free follows the life of a mulatto slave, who falls in love with a Cherokee woman, and passes as white. But, he must find his voice, and the courage to stand up for his beliefs or else lose everyone he loves forever.

Because I write historical fiction to teach history, I am careful at what I embellish. I pay close attention to manner of speech, dress, work, personal behaviors, settings, and interactions with other characters. I try to make them authentic for the time period as much as possible. Historical fiction is not easy. Every detail can be scrutinized by the reader which makes research time consuming and important.

I not only write historical fiction, I continue to read it too. (Every Monday I review a historical fiction book on my blog.) There are many periods of history I am not particularly interested in -- the Dust Bowl for instance. If I am going to learn about this sad time, the first place I will turn is a historical fiction novel. It is a lot more fun than Wikipedia!

Have you read historical fiction to learn about history? Have you learned history from a historical novel without even knowing it? If you write historical fiction, why did you choose that genre?


Bio:
            HALEY WHITEHALL has been studying the Civil War era since the 5th grade. Her writing 
style is Mark Twain with a little more faith. She likes to write out of the box stories that feature an underdog. LIVING HALF FREE is her debut novel. Released February 29, the ebook can be found at AmazonB&N, and SmashwordsFind out more about Haley through her website or connect with her on Twitter @HaleyWhitehall or Facebook.


Congratulations on your debut novel, Haley! *Bells and whistles! Champagne corks popping!* Please join us in celebrating this exciting milestone in her career. LIVING HALF FREE is only $2.99. Buy it now! Seriously, her writing rocks. And she's always willing to help fellow writers, so check out her blog and connect with her on Twitter. 
She started the Twitter hashtag #lightonhistory, so if you want to hang out with other historical writers (fiction and nonfiction), be sure to use #lightonhistory. Such a helpful bunch of tweeps!






56 comments:

Bish Denham said...

I love historical fiction and your book Living Half Free sounds very interesting. That was a terrifying video... I just don't understand how people can be so uninformed.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I bet it takes a lot of research to get the details right.

Tracy Jo said...

Congrats Haley! Sounds interesting and fun to add a twist of fiction to history. Thanks Lynn for a great guest and I hope you both have a great day!

Old Kitty said...

My BA is in History and I love love love all things historical and would have pursued my MA in Archaeology if I had the monies! So yay for history!

Hello Haley!! Good luck with your wonderful historical fiction novel! I love that it comes across as a sweeping epic love story too! Yay! thanks Lyn for hosting!

Take care
x

Richard said...

Some of my stories fall into the historical catagory, but I only do enough research to write my story. However, I know I need to do more research. Hopefully, I'll do better in the future. BTW, I find that doing research often gives me new ideas for my stories, and that's a great benefit of doing research.

Haley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haley said...

I guess I can't reply to individual comments...

Hi Kitty! Nice to meet another person with a love for history and a history BA. I thought about majoring in Archaeology.

Yes, it is quite a love story :)

Haley said...

Nice to meet you, Bish. Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you think that Living Half Free sounds interesting.

That video made me cringe. I'm glad not everyone slept through history class!

Haley said...

Hi Alex! Thanks for commenting. It takes lots and lots of research. I double checked and triple checked some of my facts. Writing historical fiction is not easy, but it is rewarding :)

Haley said...

Tracy, I'm glad you think that Living Half Free sounds like a great twist of fiction. That is very encouraging.

I hope you have a great day too!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Haley, Hurray for another historical fiction author! I also write historical fiction -- and YA to boot -- which sometimes makes it a hard sell. I even had 2 beta readers back out of a promise to read one of my manuscripts when they discovered it was historical fiction. Sigh.

And since I'm currently line editing my latest MS, I feel your pain when it comes to getting that research "exactly right."

Nice to meet you and good luck with your book!

Haley said...

Hi Richard!

So great to see you here. I've been thinking about you. I'd love to read some of your historical stories.

Yes, the more research I do the more stories ideas I get as well. I will never run out of inspiration. I just have to pick up a history book. Research sparking another idea can be beneficial if it doesn't sidetrack me from my current novel!

Haley said...

Hi Dianne,

Nice to meet you. I'm always looking for more historical fiction authors. Sometimes it makes me wonder if we're too buried in our research to connect with each other.

If you ever want another set of eyes on your manuscripts let me know. I love to beta read.

Good luck to you as well!

LynNerdKelley said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and commenting on Haley's wonderful post. I'm so glad to hear there are so many other historical writers, too. I think it's super challenging, so I admire all of you.

Dianne, I do hope you'll take Haley up on her offer to beta read your ms because she knows her history and is an awesome writer. She's always so willing to help others, and that's what I love about her!

Haley said...

Lynn,

Thank you for hosting me! I appreciate your friendship and support. (I love the Mark Twain comment, by the way. I lost my mind a long time ago.)

All of you have made my day! If you would like to write a history/historical fiction post on my blog, just contact me. I'm always looking for guest bloggers too. Like Lynn said, I'm always willing to help.

oceangirl said...

Congratulations Haley, I love historical fiction, with Gone With The Wind as my number one favorite! And many more like Michener's and McCullough's.

Hello Lynn Kelley.

Haley said...

Thank you, oceangirl. Gone With The Wind is a classic. It is a favorite of many. I took a writing quiz last year and it said the famous author I wrote most like was Margaret Mitchell - seriously. Not sure I agree with that, but it was cool that it was another historical fiction author and in my time era!

susielindau.com said...

Congratulations on your book! I love that genre.

Melissa Marsh said...

Hi, Haley! Your book sounds fascinating. Congrats!

I used to really be into the Civil War back in jr. high and high school, but my interests took a turn and now I'm mostly into WW2. I also write historical fiction set during the war.

However, with a BA and MA in history, I love, love, love to study and read about lots of different time periods.

Haley said...

Hi Melissa, so good to hear my book sounds fascinating. Great to meet another historical fiction writer.

I've recently began reading more historical fiction set in WW2. I would love to read one of your books.

tiffanyawhite said...

Thanks for hosting Haley, Lynn! She was one of my earliest friends on Twitter. I am ashamed to say that I didn't pay much attention to history in school because my father was a history teacher and my mother a government teacher. I figured they lectured me enough at home...and not studying was a huge mistake! I think it's amazing that Haley writes historical fiction. I need to add some to my TBR pile. :)

Tamara Narayan said...

I'm so glad you featured this writer. I've just finished the first draft of a historical novel featuring slavery, and I'd love to read what others have done with this time period.

Haley said...

Hi Tamera, nice to meet you. I'm excited that you are writing a novel featuring slavery. It really is a difficult topic. I applaud you for taking it on. If you need beta readers, I would love to read your finished draft.

Haley said...

Hi Tiffany! *Waves* Great to see you here. I've been meaning to connect with you.

If I had a parent who was a history teacher, I might not love historical fiction as much. Who knows. Do add some historical fiction books to your TBR pile :D

Cortney Pearson said...

I enjoy historical fiction. Congrats on the debut novel, Haley!!

Haley said...

Thank you, Cortney. Yay! All historical fiction lovers unite! :)

LynNerdKelley said...

Hooray for historical fiction lovers and writers! I'm also drawn to the WWII era historicals. I can't write it but I'll read about it and watch movies.

Arlee Bird said...

I enjoy reading history because I like to get a feel for how things were in another time and to see what I can learn from history. Good accurately researched historical fiction is particularly something I like to read for the escapist value combined with the reasons I like history. I wish you success with your current effort.


Lee
A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog

Coleen Patrick said...

I enjoy historical fiction too. Some of my favorite time periods are the French Revolution, the Tudor era in England and anything in Scotland :)

cleemckenzie said...

I absolutely love historical fiction, and how great to see Haley combining her love of history with that of writing. I'm really excited to get her book.

Welcome back, Lyn. Hope you are a bit more settled. Glad you took some time to take care of things and stop stressing to keep up. A great model to follow!

Karen Lange said...

Thanks so much, Lynn, for the intro to Haley. I love historical fiction and Haley brings up some of the reasons I love it so much. I also think it has more depth potential with characters, plot, and setting. My current WIP is historical fiction, and this gives me great food for thought.

Happy weekend!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Congratulations on your book, Haley! I love historical fiction. I love learning about an era mixed in with fiction.

Melissa Sugar said...

Thank you, Lynn for introducing us to Haley. Her books sounds intriguing. I am a history buff and really like reading historical fiction. Scary video. Is it really possible that so many people are clueless about history? It is downright frightening.

Pk Hrezo said...

Congrats Haley! And I love historical fiction... the blending of facts of fiction is a beautiful thing. :)

Lynda R Young said...

Historical fiction definitely has that extra layer to it because much of it is based on facts. As much as I enjoy reading it, I don't think I could write it because of all the research required to get it right.

inluvwithwords said...

Sounds like historical fiction is a perfect fit for Haley. I used to completely zone out during history class. When I homeschooled my children, I took advantage of lots of historical fiction. It was a good way to keep their interest and sneak in little bits of history. Kind of like hiding broccoli in a casserole.

Susan Fields said...

The research involved in writing historical fiction seems so daunting! And congrats on your debut novel!

Romance Reader said...

COngratulations on your debut novel's release Haley!

And I'm in awe of all the research that goes in historicals.

Riya

Theresa Milstein said...

Lynn, thanks for introducing us to Haley. I majored in history, so I don't know why I tried my first historical fiction short story only this year. Your premise sounds interesting. I wish you the best of luck.

Medeia Sharif said...

Congrats to Haley on her release!

I love history and historical fiction. I'd like to try writing in that genre one day.

Haley said...

Nice to meet you Arlee. Thanks for commenting. A well researched historical fiction novel should be like a time machine. :) What is your favorite time period to escape to?

Haley said...

Hi Coleen! Yay for another historical fiction reader. I have a story idea from the French Revolution... maybe I should think about it some more ;)I did my history thesis on the revolution. It is a fascinating and scary time.

Haley said...

Thank you, Cleemckenzie. I hope you enjoy Living Half Free. It really is a dream come true to be able to combine both of my passions. I love every minute I'm a writer. I wish more people could pursue their passions.

Haley said...

Hi Karen! What time period is your WIP? I'm glad I gave you some food for thought.

I hope you have a great day :)

Haley said...

Thank you, Sharon. Nice to meet you. If you read Living Half Free you will learn more about the antebellum South.

Haley said...

Hi Melissa. Thanks for commenting. I think a lot of people slept through history class. Usually people say that history is one of the most boring subjects in school. They do not know what they are missing!

Haley said...

Hi Pk,
Thanks for commenting. You made me smile: The blending of facts and fiction is a beautiful thing. :) - Can I quote you?

Haley said...

Hi Lynda,
I'm glad you enjoy reading historical fiction. You can appreciate all the work that goes into creating a novel. I think the challenge of getting the facts right is one of the reasons I like to write it. I know I'm strange. :)

Haley said...

Hi inluvwithwords,
Nice to meet you. A lot of people had trouble in history class so you are not alone. Historical fiction is a great way to learn bits of history. I like your analogy of broccoli in casserole.

Haley said...

Hi Susan and Riya!
I can get lost in research. If am not careful I spend more time researching than it takes to write a first draft. I do not think that is normal...

Thanks for commenting.

Haley said...

Hi Theresa,
You do not know why you majored in history? You must have been drawn to the subject somehow. Perhaps, if you think about it you will realize the answer. I think that knowing the reason why is very important

Good luck on you historical fiction writing.

Haley said...

Thanks Medeia!

I hope you do try writing historical fiction even if it is just a short story. If I can help you in any way just contact me.

Nicki Elson said...

Historical fiction is exactly how I like to get my history! Like Haley said, it brings history to life. And I like that the focus on common man rather than embellishing on the lives of well-known people (something feels odd to me about making up things about real people. I'm from Illinois, and I'm pretty sure Abraham Lincoln was NOT a vampire hunter. Haha)

Congratulations hon your debut novel, Haley! And thanks for the interview, Lynn.

Haley said...

Nice to meet you, Nicki and thanks for the congrats. What is your favorite time period?

I agree with you - something is odd about embellishing the lives of well known people. That book Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter makes me cringe. I also think these famous people do not need my help to get more attention.

Otter said...

I like historical fiction of the fantasy/scifi bent. Is that the same thing?

Fairday Morrow said...

Wonderful post! I am fascinated by historical fiction. I think the diligence in creating a captivating story and staying true to the factual aspects must take an incredible amount of perseverance, talent, and research. Congratulations on your book, Haley! I'm a new follower here, found you through The Write Game.
~ Jess
http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com