I'm both honoured and excited to be part of the blog tour for author Pam Jenoff's new novel 'The Orphan's Tale' today to celebrate its recent release!
Below you can find a special guest post from Pam herself, so be sure to check it out!
Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Times: Why I Love Historical Fiction
Picture your life as it is right now. Perhaps family and job, relatively stable with a reasonable expectation of continuing on much the same path. Then suddenly you are cast from your home, separated from your lived ones and forced to survive in circumstances for which you are not remotely prepared.
Welcome to historical fiction.
This is the situation most of protagonists face. I generally write about women in the first half of the twentieth century, usually sometime around the Second World War. Whether in a rural or urban setting, working or upper class, these woman faced much more rigid social conventions than we do today. They were generally expected to get married, raise a family and live not far from where they grew up. But then, something happens.
That something is what makes for great story.
In my books, I get to take a woman out of her traditional role and turn her feet from the expected path in an entirely new direction. Take, for example, one of my two protagonists in The Orphan’s Tale. Noa is a sixteen year-old who has been cast out of her parents’ home after becoming pregnant by a German solider. She’s barely surviving living over a train station when she finds a boxcar full of unknown infants headed for the concentration camps, steals one of the infants and flees. Now she has to take care of herself and the baby without a home. The circus provides refuge but she has to learn the aerialist act to blend in. This is hardly the path she expected in her life. She’s ill-prepared for the challenges and at first she fails mightily. But in taking on the new role, she is pushed and grows in ways that she would have never suspected. It’s the hero’s journey, on steroids.
And that is what I love about writing historical fiction. I love to take women out of their traditional roles and thrust them into circumstances they could have never imagined but for war or other external catastrophe. To test their metal and hold my breath to see if they succeed.
Ultimately this test is about you, the reader. Because my goal in writing is to put you, the reader, in the shoes of my protagonist, to have you feel the fear and discomfort. To face the test and ask yourself, what would I have done? To have you stand at the praecipe with my protagonist, to stand at the doorway and question whether or not to step through.