My Experience Writing Historical Novels
My first experience with writing a historical novel was Petersburg, which was a challenge for me on so many levels. First, I'd never written a historical before. And I never chose to write one. Petersburg, its characters, the time, the history, and the story all chose me.
It happened this way: I'd spent five years writing a novel that was rejected by publishers because they felt there wasn't enough plot. Although I never thought of myself as a "plot person", I was determined not to make the same mistake twice.
I began working on a new book set in modern day America with a character whom I hoped would lead me on a grand adventure. He turned out to be exceedingly boring, except for one thing: He had a Russian grandfather who wouldn’t shut up.
A year and a half later, I'd finished a 1200 page novel. My agent loved it.
The novel went to auction and sold based on the first 300 pages! It went on to be sold for $250,000 for the hardback rights alone and became a Best Seller in England.
Petersburg was my first historical novel. I have gone on to write two more; Mistress of the Labyrinth and The Ruby Eye, both of which intertwine history with fantasy and a touch of the paranormal.
The sweep of Petersburg is grand... Hanlon's characters do not simply walk through the pages but live the story, as does the reader..." — United Press International