There are numerous writers associations and groups in America. A simple search on the Internet reveals associations for mystery writers, erotica, sci-fi and fantasy, romance, Christian fiction, Muslim fiction, writers whose stories feature our four-legged friends, etc. Except one genre appears to not be represented. It’s historical fiction. Sure the Historical Novel Society and the Historical Writers’ Association appear but they are based out of the UK. The closest associations I can find are for westerns and military history but nothing more general.
I wonder why that is. Historically speaking, the US is still in its early years of being a country, but look at what we’ve accomplished and been involved in during our 200+ years: Revolutionary War, The Civil War, Reconstruction, the Trail of Tears, Westward Expansion, rise to world power, World War I, World War II, Korean War, etc. That’s a juicy bit of history to pull from so why isn’t there a historical fiction writers association in the US? It doesn’t have to be one that solely focuses on our own history because many of us who enjoy reading and writing historical fiction read from different time periods around the world.
It’s not as if Americans don’t write historical fiction; they do in droves. For example, Deanna Raybourn, David W. Ball, Ronald G. Carter, Amy Tan, just to name a few. Is it perhaps historical fiction can sometimes get categorized as just fiction?
But that still wouldn’t explain why there is no specific organization for American historical fiction writers. Are there a higher percentage of historical fiction writers from the UK? I doubt it’s due to apathy. If the dog writers and cat writers can get together and form associations, why can’t the historical set?
One of the advantages of a genre-specific association is the opportunity to have conversations about challenges one runs into with your genre. Another is discovering new resources to aid in one’s work. A valuable weapon in the arsenal of any writer of historical fiction as it is quite a labor intensive. Also, conventions for those more inclined to socially interact.
So what’s an American writer of historical fiction supposed to do? It would seem they may want to brush up on their England English spellings and save their money to attend conferences outside the US. Granted, the Historical Novel Society does have a bi-annual conference in the US but their annual one is across the pond. The Historical Writers Association lists several festivals their members speak at but oh, of course, those are all across the pond as well.
If anyone knows of a US-based association for historical fiction writers, I’d love to hear about it.