I've been coming across some wonderful examples of publishers buying up supernatural tales set in the past, which is highly encouraging for me as I sit here revising my 1918-set ghostly fantasy.
Case in point, Libba Bray of the Gemma Boyle Trilogy/Going Bovine/Printz Award fame sold her four-book 1920s-era series, The Diviners, to Little Brown earlier this year. According to Publishers Weekly, "Bray follows a teen heroine she says is reminiscent of two of the era's most famous literary women--Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker. Bray, who admitted to having always been fascinated by the Jazz Age, said she's looking forward 'to offering readers a wild new ride full of dames and dapper dons, jazz babies and Prohibition-defying parties, conspiracy and prophecy--and all manner of things that go bump in the neon-drenched night.'" When I met with a Little Brown editor at a recent conference, she described the series to me as The X-Files meets the 1920s. The first book in the series will debut fall 2012.
Last month I interviewed Edgar-nominated novelist Saundra Mitchell over at Suburban Vampire. Mitchell announced today that her 1880s-era novel, The Vespertine, has a publication date of March 7, 2011. Here's how Mitchell described her plot to me: "The Vespertine is about a Victorian teen named Amelia, who gets to spend a summer in Baltimore with family--theoretically, in search of a husband. But when she arrives, she discovers she can catch glimpses of the future at sunset. This makes Amelia and her new best friend very popular--everybody wants to spend time with the girl who can tell their future!... But when Amelia starts to predict disaster instead of delights, the people around her start to wonder if she's not just the seeing these things, but causing them." Mitchell will be sharing the novel's cover in September.
When I first tried selling my historical fiction (written for an adult audience) a decade ago, publishers didn't want anything set in the past, unless it was historical romance. I had an agent fighting for my work, but editors said the historical market was deader than dead. Therefore, it makes me deliriously happy to see YA historicals finding good homes, and I love the fact that the past and the supernatural are being intertwined in creative new ways (I haven't even mentioned the success of YA steampunk, which also makes me smile). I can't wait to read these upcoming novels...and I'm itching to finish up my own book and send it out into a publishing world that isn't so afraid of bygone eras anymore.