The History We Always Live

An important question for any author:

[From Twitter, July 27, 2020.]

Answer: I sure hope not:

I have generally tried to avoid divisive politics on here over the years. However, I have especially felt that in this presidential year I could not stay “neutral.” In 2016, I did not believe the current president should have been elected. When he emerged the winner, I had hoped he would prove me wrong – prove all of us naysayers wrong; I am willing to be proven wrong – but he has not. In fact, I think less of him now than I did back then, and I feel strongly that he does not deserve to be re-elected.

However, I would rather talk about books and writing on here. Yet books/writing and political issues invariably do blend together to some extent. It is impossible for a writer to avoid life issues that could also be deemed “political” by someone(s).

The other day, I also found an unexpected “tag” and “endorsement” on Instagram from a reader and follower… who is also not an American:

[From my Instagram Stories, July 26, 2020.]

Two decades ago, I was a lecturer in history and political science, and I heard often from students in the U.S. that they felt they could not relate to American history. I realized I wanted to find a way to help them better do so. I came to believe writing history intermixed with fiction and even romance might be an excellent means to be “teaching” still in a way… and I know I am hardly the only one ever to have thought that:

[War and Remembrance, by Herman Wouk, 1978. Photo by me, 2020.]

My most recent two (and my planned next) are set not long after U.S. independence in 1776 – the sort of “distant” era to them that I recall drove some of my students crazy.

But the novels are not only for those who know the U.S. as our own country and may want to learn more about the time period and our ancestors abroad.

Recalling some of the international students I had also taught, I have also aimed the books at those who may not know the U.S. quite as well first-hand and I wrote them in such a way that they may be perhaps accessible to those for whom English is a foreign or second language:

[A 1787 France excerpt from my 2017 Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Paperback. Photo by me, 2020.]

Note, you just learned some history there and may not even realize it. THAT is what writing historical fiction should be also. I must admit too that it is more than a bit satisfying to discover that non-Americans seem to like my books too. 🙂

And like those of “1787,” we too are living history now – whether we like that reality or not. We will be looked back upon two centuries from now by historians. Knowing what we know about the present, will we be happy about what future historians may write about us?

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world.


R. J. Nello View All →

Author: “Tomorrow The Grace,” “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains…and the 1700s.

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