August 04, 2009



by Deeanne Gist

I’ve been toying with the idea of setting a book in the 1940s. But I wasn’t sure exactly when a historical is no longer considered “historical.” At a writer’s conference, I heard a speaker refer to books set before 1900 as historicals and books set between 1900 - 1950 as “vintage.” But I’ve never heard the term vintage since then.


And does it matter? Well, turns out, it makes quite a difference. Readers want to know what kind of book you write. Members of the press want to know. Publishers want to know. Those who run contests want to know.


What about you? Would you consider a book set in the 1940s as “historical?” Why or why not? Have you ever heard a book referred to as “vintage?” Would that time period intrigue you or do you prefer books prior to 1900?



Vickie McDonough said...

My first thought when you said you wanted to write a 1940's story was NOOOO!!!! I love your earlier historicals. 1940 just doesn't interest me, even though me folks were alive then. I prefer stories set in the 1800s. But that's just me. I'm sure someone would like a 1940s book.

Keli Gwyn said...

Deeanne, I prefer books set in the 1800s. I think you have a great voice for traditional historicals. However, if you were to write a story set in 1940, I'd probably still read it just because you wrote it even though it's not a period I would normally choose.

adge said...

I think 1940's would be a little late for a historical. Vintage sounds like a good word to describe something for then though. Someone probably made it up because they knew historicals were a little earlier so they needed a word and BAM they came up with vintage. It also makes since when compared to clothes too.

Martha A. said...

Not really, 1940's is historical in a sense like WW2 history and I enjoy that time period, but generally I think of further back as historical and not usually ever vintage...

bigguysmama said...

When I think of historical, I do think of before the 1900's. In truth, historical would be anything not in the present. I don't care for the term vintage, although I think it would fit this time period. Vintage just makes me think of "old", like an 80 yr old grandma. :) I think if this were a genre that picked up steam "vintage" would become a word that we'd use enough to get used to.

I hope I'm making sense. Of course, this is all personal opinion.

Molly Noble Bull said...

I've heard of vintage wine. But I never heard of vintage romance. It makes me think of marriages that last a lifetime, and that's a good thing.
Nevertheless, I would have to agree with everybody else. I want horsedrawn carriages in my historicals, not depression-glass and fireside chats.

Deeanne Gist said...

Wow! That's 0-6 for Vintage Romance! In the 90s Pamela Morsi wrote a book called Roustabout (a type of car). I think it was set in the 1910-1920s. Wonderful, wonderful book. Women still wore long dresses and it had a real historical feel to it.

Thanks for your comments! If you haven't weighed in, let us know what you think!

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

I like the sound of Vintage Romance and I think it would be fun because of the fascinating time period. Julie Lessman's books are set in 1913-1922, I believe. I wonder if that considered Vintage by her publisher.I loved them all.

But OH, I devoured A Bride in the Bargain!