Imagine a world, completely unique and different than our own. Now find a way to seamlessly incorporate it with thousands of years of existing history. Do your rigorous research to be sure you fully comprehend all of the different social, political, economic, religious, environmental, and other factors at play leading up to the moment where your world becomes the real one. But don’t make any mistakes, because those details are very real, and there are people who dedicate their lives to studying them and you won’t get away with fudging them a bit.
Pretty easy, right?
For those of you who haven’t read my “about” page (you’re not missing much, but you can still check it out at the top of the page), I should explain that all of my books take place in the same “universe,” one which is a direct branch off of our own. This decision was not easy to come by. I originally wrote my first novel with the intention of making a completely different fictional world. However, the more I wrote the more I began wishing it was a historical fiction—largely because I have an immense love for history. So I decided to go with the best (or worst) of both worlds and wrote an alternate historical fiction.
Thus began the lengthy, labor-intensive task of creating my fictional history. I’m still not done yet, and only have a very brief outline of major events up until halfway through the 20th century. And those events are still largely focused on Europe, with only minor regard for other countries. But that’s the thing with any fictional world: it is alive and morphing, shifting and changing over time as it continues to build in your mind. The worlds we build are never “done.” Which is one of the big reasons why I enjoy making all of my novels standalone but still interwoven with this alternate history. Not only does it help to connect them all, but it gives me a chance to continually develop this world that is my brain-child.
So, let’s talk a little more about the genre of alternate history. It falls under the wider arc of “speculative fiction,” which describes any sort of fiction centered on our world coupled with the question of “what if?” Most science-fiction also falls under this umbrella category, as well as some fantasy. But what really makes alternate history different is the way it expands off of a very particular “what if?” moment in real history; a moment referred to as “The Divergence Point.”
From the Divergence Point, everything changes. This could be a little moment, like a person accidentally tripping and dying, or full-on Butterfly Effect where something seemingly insignificant has wide-reaching impacts. The Divergence Point could also be something huge, like a plague, or a bad artist with a silly mustache winning a war (see the show “The Man in the High Castle” for an excellent example of this larger scale Divergence Point).
Another post is on its way which will explain my Divergence Point and the initial groundwork that goes into creating an alternate history, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
Do you write or read Alternate History? Do you think I’m full of hot air and that this genre sounds like a total walk in the park? Are you brimming full of irrelevant questions and comments that have nothing to do with Alternate History? Leave them here anyway!