While many areas are underrepresented in historical fiction, there are also some that are way overrepresented. That’s not to say that books about these topics don’t need to be on the market, but they take up an incredibly large share.
In historical fiction about the United States, the overrepresented areas can be expressed in one word: wars. The American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II are all extremely popular topics (though World War I isn’t as prominent). I suspect that wars are covered so often in children’s fiction because they’re a great chance to write action scenes, particularly if your novel takes place on the battlefield. This tactic can help to draw reluctant readers, especially boys.
In the rest of the world, it’s harder to say what areas are overrepresented since there’s a much wider variety of titles. Wars tend to be covered pretty well in world history too, with the French Revolution and World War II (especially the Holocaust) being popular topics. And there’s an abundance of fiction about Western Europe during virtually every time period.
It’s certainly not impossible to write and sell a novel about one of these topics, but you’ll definitely need a fresh angle. A title we recently featured at Wonders & Marvels, The Sniper, is a good example. While it’s a World War II story, it approaches the war from an unusual perspective: a Russian teenager recruited as a sniper.
So what areas are overrepresented in historical fiction for children?
How do you make such topics fresh? And what makes wars so popular?
Melissa L. is the YA Editorial Assistant for Wonders and Marvels. You can read more about her here: Editorial Staff.