With the recent development of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series as a cable show on the Starz network, the subject of influential time travel and historical books has intrigued me, taking me back to the stories that helped shape my own love for historical fiction.
The two titles that instantly come to mind were written for “adult” readers, but back in the (cough) years of my youth, we didn’t have the wealth of YA-targeted historical fiction that we have today. Still, I discovered both of these books in my late teens and early twenties, and they had a profound effect on me as I began writing my first tale of historical romance (which I never submitted for publication, and trust me, that’s a good thing.)
While I have long been a fan of Elizabethan England, and am the proud owner of stacks of research books on the subject, I can point to a single book that spawned my fascination with Elizabethan fiction—and it’s an old one! Anya Seton’s Green Darkness.
Who would have thought a chance book found in my mother’s overflowing bookshelves would end up meaning so much to me? But this story of time travel(!) and mysticism(!) in Elizabethan England(!) was the perfect combination of romance and adventure, and completely immersed me into another time and place.
Another story that I can hold up as extremely influential in my love of romance, history and time travel is the Jude Devereaux classic, A Knight in Shining Armor. Once again, the combination of time travel(!), Elizabethan England(!) and a completely swoon-worthy romance(!) absolutely transported me, and I found myself creating stories of my own . . . stories which eventually led me to become a published author.
Admittedly, I have yet to pen a time-travel book, but every time I find myself back in the world of the Maids of Honor, I feel like pieces of every romance and historical fiction book I’ve ever read weave their way into the narrative. There’s grand romance, mysticism, spies, political intrigue, over-the-top celebrations and feasts, combat, code-breaking, and royal plots aplenty. All the things I love as a reader.
Not every book is going to hit all readers the same way—what can send one reader swooning can leave another reader cold—so your mileage may vary on the books listed above. But think about what books made a difference to YOU—whether as a reader or a writer. Can you imagine your life without them?