January 10, 2020

Writing the Book You Want to Read

By Laura Frantz

I once heard the sweet spot for readers is historical fiction set in the 19th-century American west. Novels abound during this time period and are often bestsellers. But what if that’s not your sweet spot as a writer? What if your interests and instincts pull you toward another era and setting? Your passion vs. writing for the market?

When I look back on the ten years spent crafting my debut novel, I clearly recall my motivation. I wrote a book I couldn’t find on the shelf. A book that I really wanted to read but couldn’t locate. That eventually became The Frontiersman’s Daughter published by Revell. Drawing from local lore and the lives of Kentucky’s first settlers, including Daniel Boone, I discovered a treasure trove of novel fodder. Since The Frontiersman’s Daughter released in 2009, colonial American fiction has come into its own with an array of authors to choose from, each penning unique stories devoted to our country’s founding history.

Several years later, I took the same approach when writing The Lacemaker. Although Colonial Williamsburg is a favorite historic site of many, I couldn’t find another novel set in this fascinating, pivotal place. Other than the bestselling Dawn’s Early Light published in 1943, little fiction in 18th-century Williamsburg seemed to exist yet I sensed there were readers who were as interested in Virginia’s tumultuous beginnings and the events leading up to the Revolutionary War as I was. In 2018 I was honored when The Lacemaker won the Christy Award.

My newest novel, An Uncommon Woman, returns to my frontier roots. This story, set in western Virginia, now present day West Virginia, draws heavily from the history of that region and has an Indian captivity theme. Thankfully, my passion for this time period and reader interest has allowed me to continue writing about our nation’s founding, helping keep history alive in even a small way through fiction.

I encourage writers whether beginning or established to write a story they would love to read but can’t find on the shelf. Do you have a favorite setting or time period? Start there. A favorite historic site? Visit if you can, do a little digging/research, and see if it holds the seeds of a story. Write that first page and chapter. If you gain momentum and move forward, keep going. If it appeals to you, then it will probably appeal to readers, too.
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Frontiersman's DaughterCourting Morrow LittleThe Colonel's LadyThe Lacemaker, and A Bound Heart. When not reading and writing, she loves to garden, take long walks, listen to music, and travel. She is the proud mom of an American soldier and a career firefighter. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State. Learn more at Facebook: Instagram: Pinterest:

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