Here's a question.
How does a trend become a trend? For awhile, chick lit was super hot. Now, according to Stephanie Bond and other sources, chick lit is well, not hot. Werewolves, vampires, and anything with paranormal elements is super hot (in the romance world anyway).
Here's my humble opinion on the subject. A trend becomes a trend when an agent/editor/publishing house takes a chance on something new and innovative. Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding was probably one of the first break-out chick lit books (and I loved both of them). And then, suddenly the market was flooded with chick lit. It boomed for a few years, but now, the popularity has suddenly dropped.
Regency-historical novels continue to be popular. Have you seen the boom of Jane Austen-related books? There's even a few movies about Jane Austen and her life, and not adaptations of her stories.
So here's something I don't quite understand when it comes to World War II fiction. I've had agents pass on my manuscript because "World War II is a hard sell at the moment." Well...ok. But then I point to the success of Ken Follett, Alan Furst, Jack Higgins, and...
Wait a minute. Those are all male writers. Female novelists who write about World War II are few and far in between. Why is that? The most obvious answer, of course, would be that men generally are more interested in military subjects, i.e. war.
Wars involve everyone - man, woman, child. World War II saw the advent of women, especially American women, enterting the workforce, of keeping the homefront going while their men went off to war. Women were in the military, too - as WACS, as WAVES, as army nurses, as airplane pilots, and yes, even as spies. Books abound on women's role during World War II. I should know - I have most of them!
Yet World War II fiction written by women continues to fall short of the male novelists' output. The inspirational market has more World War II-set fiction than the secular, and though there are a few female novelists that have written secular war fiction - Anita Shreve, Pam Jenoff, and Morag McKendrick Pippin - the balance is clearly in the men's favor.
This whole idea intrigues - and frustrates me. I have so many tales I want to tell about World War II - but is the market there?
I believe it is. Look at the popularity of Hollywood movies like Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, Black Book, and Schindler's List, to name a few. Ken Burns' documentary was hugely successful. History books on new subjects of the war continue to be released every month. The interest is there.
I can think of only one solution to getting the powers-that-be in the publishing industry to sit up and take notice of our need for World War II fiction written by women - write a great book. A high-concept book. A book that will spark a new trend.
You know that burn-out I had last week? Well, consider it gone. I now feel like I have a mission - to write a book that will spark a revolution of sorts, one that will open the market to more novels set during WW2 written by women.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on World War II fiction. Ever read any? Have any desire to read any? Do you have any ideas on why it's not a big seller in women's fiction?
(And if you would be so kind, please take the poll in the left-handed column).