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Introverts and Extroverts in Historical Fiction

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA

I recently came on a discussion in a facebook group about introverts and extroverts in fiction. (Sorry to whoever started this thread; I can’t find it again now!) But it really made me stop and think, because as a reader I have always been a fan of what I call ‘quiet books’. The more page-turning a book is, the less memorable. So as a writer I need to find a balance between the speed my reader devours the book, and the feeling or memory that the book leaves behind, both of which rely on slowing the pace.

Stakes

The fashion these days in books on the craft of writing is to tell you to concentrate on high action and drama and to have plenty at stake in an external way. This is what we see a lot of in film and TV drama, when the focus is on the physical demonstration of action. In these media, it’s necessary because we have no access to the interior thoughts of the characters.

But novels are different, and as a novelist I’ve always been much more interested the in motivation of my characters. They act, but not necessarily in a high stakes way. The suggestion that some readers might prefer to read about introverted characters, but that most fiction is aimed at extroverts, is a refreshing idea.

What is an introvert, and what might they want to read?

According to Healthline Carl Jung wrote that introverts and extroverts could be separated based on how they regain energy. Introverts prefer a less stimulating environment, and need time on their own to recharge their energy levels, whereas extroverts recharge by social interaction and being with other people.

It made me wonder if introverts prefer reading books written in the first person, where the ‘I’ conveys the inner feelings of the protagonist, and it is as if you are the only person through whom the story is being told. Perhaps a more extrovert reader would prefer multiple points of view and multiple characters which would mimic their preferred way to refuel?

Drawing Room Drama

In historical fiction, the history that has survived is often of the ‘high stakes’ variety. War, bitter battles for control over crown or state, murderous religious divides. Yet one of the most enduring historical fiction periods is the Regency period, presided over by the giant Jane Austen, whose quiet wit, and focus on the drawing room intrigues of societies marriage market, prove endlessly popular.

The Spectrum

As a reader I enjoy both types of fiction, but I couldn’t read an endless diet of historical thrillers. The non-stop breathless action makes me long for a quieter book. I suspect that like most readers, I am on the spectrum between introvert and extrovert, but heading more towards the introvert. As a writer, I need to recharge often after my most dramatic scenes, as I am literally living them as I write.

What do you think? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you like to read about introverted characters, or must they always be the ‘go-getting’ adventurous type? What type of books do you like to read, and would you categorize yourself as an introvert or extrovert?

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Blog Reviews

A Place in the World by Amy Maroney – review

Amy dfw-am-tgfo-cover-large-e1518548826385 Amy dfw-am-mw-cover-large-e1518565812648This is the last in the series and I’m sad to see it end. I thoroughly enjoyed this dual time-line narrative that takes us back to the sixteenth century, and Mira, a female artist trying to find her place in the world. On the trail of this artist is Zari, an art historian who is confounded at every turn by other less well-informed (and male) historians of the establishment. Dottie Butterfield-Swinton was a partucularly cringe-making character!

Both women are looking to make their mark, and both have long journeys to find their niche. For Zari it is a fight to prove that Mira’s paintings were not painted by a better known male artist. For Mira there is a more life-threatening adventure as one of her old enemies seeks to wreak revenge. The plot of both time-lines keeps the reader turning the pages anxious to find out what will happen next. We find out in this story that Mira is pregnant, but having lost one adopted child, she is understandably protective when the new baby comes, and the fact she must protect this vulnerable child adds to her difficulties. I enjoyed the different characters – the kind and practical Nekane, and the manipulative Amadina who was intent on destroying the lives of Mira and her husband Arnaud.

Amy GUEST_5a901e23-39c0-4de1-9d59-f91e827d1618The settings in this book are beautifully drawn, the convents, the rich merchants’ houses, and the landscape around Bayonne. I also enjoyed reading about Zari’s journey to Basque country, and her encounter with her distant relatives in her search for her own identity.

There is much more in these books than a brief review will allow. If you haven’t read the others, do start from the beginning. All three are excellent reads and I highly recommend all three for art and history lovers and anyone who wants a well-written, thoughtfully crafted book.

You can BUY THE BOOK here UK or here US

Discover the series on Amy’s Website and get a free book!

 

 

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Blog

Award-winning writer Charlotte Betts reveals her favourite English chateau

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I have just finished Charlotte Betts’s latest novel, Chateau on the Lake, which is yet another gripping romance from this award-winning novelist. I first came across Charlotte because she has written several books in one of my favourite periods – the seventeenth century, but for this novel we are invited to explore the 18th century and Revolutionary France.

 

After the death of her parents Madeleine Moreau must travel to France to search for the relatives she has heard of, but never met. The meeting proves disastrous and she is given shelter at Chateau Mirabelle, a breathtakingly beautiful castle which is home to the aristocrat Etienne D’Aubery. Of course there is a little competition for Madeleine’s affections, with the handsome Jean Luc, and plenty of dark secrets in the Chateau’s past.

 

Charlotte Betts recreates the detail of the period painstakingly, whilst still providing a pacy and satisfying romance. The sense of the course of the French revolution with all its horrors – the guillotine, the starving peasants, the mob violence – all these are faithfully depicted, whilst never losing the forward momentum of the plot. It is a hard thing to do, to juggle romance against such gritty realism, but Charlotte Betts does it seamlessly.

 

I wondered, after the attractions of France, which was Charlotte’s favourite English chateau in which to spend a quiet afternoon –

Corfe Castle is one of my favourite historical sites to visit. We often holiday in Dorset and I love the way the castle is the focal point of the village. It’s always been sunny when I’ve visited and I like to sit quietly in the sunshine and allow the tourists’ voices fade away. If I close my eyes and listen to the echoes of time it’s almost possible to unlock the secrets of the past. I conjure up a vision of Lady Mary Bankes who, when her husband was away, led the defence of the castle during a six week siege by the Parliamentarians. What a wonderful novel that would make! Perhaps I shall write about that one day.
Charlotte 
National Trust
Corfe

With her talk of English Civil War sieges, I might just beat her to it! (Only joking!)

Find out more about Charlotte Betts on her website