History Ever After: Sydney 2018

Love is global. One gift my writing has brought me is a connection with several awesome Australian reviewers, including Kat Mayo at Book Thingo and Dani St. Clair at Romancing the Social Sciences. (Check out these two awesome sites!)

I missed Kat at #RT16, but she told me about a different kind of romance conference that was happening in Sydney in June 2018: the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance’s “Think Globally, Love Locally?”

International Association for the Study of Popular Romance Sydney Think Globally Love Locally presentation by author Jennifer Hallock of Sugar Sun historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

But, whoa, academia. I chose to stop after my master’s degree and teach high school instead of university so that I could avoid the pressures of “publish or perish.” (And publish what I wanted to publish, i.e. romance.) But this conference! This looked cool, and I applied. Lo and behold, they accepted my presentation, “History Ever After: Fabricated Historical Chronotopes in Romance Genre Fiction.” Now I have to put it together.

 

Here is the gist of my investigation:

A few popular Eurocentric chronotopes dominate romance fiction, especially Regency/Victorian England, the Scottish Highlands, and the American West. Though these three periods were filled with armed conflict, political exploitation, and societal change, some publishers have discouraged authors from putting these conflicts on the page, let alone tackle a new setting altogether. My presentation will investigate geographic and historical diversity in new romance and compare it to the original inspirations of the genre. Specifically, I will be looking at online retailer subject groupings, series romance lines, recent Big Five historical romance titles, and the growing body of work by independent authors and smaller presses. I will also be interviewing both traditionally published and independently published authors, as well as editors, bloggers, and reviewers.

Just warning you, I am probably going to pick your brain in this process. I might be making a survey. I certainly will be talking to as many people as possible.

Goodreads International Association for the Study of Popular Romance Sydney Think Globally Love Locally presentation by author Jennifer Hallock of Sugar Sun historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

I especially need to crowd-source some book recommendations. If you know of historical romance books that may be of interest to this project, please add them to one of these two Goodreads lists:

For books outside of 19th century England (Regency/Victorian), Scotland, and the American West, click here.

For books (in any historical time period) that include political, military, or socio-economic conflict or complexity, click here.

Thank you for your help! You’ll be hearing from me.

More about History Ever After at the Ayala Museum (24 February 2017)

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“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Mark Twain said that. He’s one of my favorite authors and personalities in the American canon. Did you also know he was one of the leaders of the anti-imperialism movement, and that he argued for giving the Philippines its freedom in the early twentieth century? Interested?

If you live in Manila, I hope you can come to the Ayala Museum on February 24th, from 2-5pm, to hear my talk “History Ever After.” What will I talk about? Good question. I will start with truth and weave in the fiction, and I think Mark Twain would be proud:

  1. I will prove that our news is not new. In fact, America’s current debates over global economic integration, nation-building, immigration, and the use of military force echo the real and vigorous debate that started with the conquest of the Philippines.
  2. I will show how this history helps me develop my unusual, precocious, and maybe even dangerous heroes and heroines. I will talk about each, too, including the main characters of my new novella, Tempting Hymn. Real history writes the best fiction in any genre.
  3. Finally, I will address one of the most difficult questions in historical romance: how do you write happily ever after when your audience knows the next war is just around the corner? In other words, how do you walk the line between romancing history and romanticizing it?

Maybe you want to know about the shared history of Filipinos and Americans, or maybe you want to hear the latest updates in the Sugar Sun series. Or maybe you’re a writer, and you want to know how to shape conflict and character development with real history. If any of these three are true, there’s something for you here!

This talk would not have been possible without the guidance and vision of Mina V. Esguerra of #romanceclass, and thanks to Marjorie De Asis-Villaflores of the Ayala Museum for all her help.

Tickets and more information can be found here.

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“History Ever After” at the Ayala Museum

Real history writes the best fiction in any genre. The unusual, precocious, and even dangerous heroes and heroines of real life are the ones who inspire us to start typing. But how do you write happily ever after when your audience knows the next war is just around the corner? How do you walk the line between romancing history and romanticizing it?

As historian and author Camille Hadley Jones posted on Facebook: “I’m finding [writing] difficult because I don’t want to ‘escape’ into the past,  I want to confront it—with a HEA of course—yet I know that’s not what’s many readers seek from [historical romance].” Maybe not, but I am right there with her on “confronting history.” That is why I write my books set in the American colonial Philippines. It is why I put Javier and Georgie in the midst of the 1902 cholera epidemic in chapter one of Under the Sugar Sun.

Advice often given to authors is: “Don’t underestimate your reader.” Don’t gloss over the inconvenient,  gritty truth just because you think your readers cannot handle it. Use it to create real characters and real conflict—but make sure that no matter how dark the dark moment, love will overcome all.

This is the subject of my talk “History Ever After” at the Ayala Museum, Makati City, on February 24, 2017, from 2-5pm. With the help of Mina V. Esguerra of #romanceclass, I will answer questions about how I balance courtship and calamity in my Sugar Sun romance series, set in the Philippine-American War. Hope to see you there!

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