I wish newspaper reporters would stop calling The Da Vinci Code historical fiction. Lately it seems like half of the Google alerts on this phrase are talking about Dan Brown's novels. Take this quote from a recent Kansas City Star article, reposted for the Philadelphia Inquirer:
As a historical novelist, it was Brown’s job to combine historical threads (even dubious ones, I guess) with original characters and a plot, and to dream up his own settings, too.
“There’s no convention that says if you are a writer of historical fiction, you must document your sources,” said Nancy Nahra, professor of humanities at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt.
The article's all about the recent copyright trial, blah blah, that I'm sure we're all tired of already. But if you want the context for the quote, you can read the whole article here.
I know there are different ways of defining historical fiction, and I've even written about this to some extent - and even adjusted my opinion over time - but I don't think I'd ever consider present-day novels about past events to fit the category (despite the fact that I tend to enjoy these novels). Would you?
As a sidenote, I'm probably one of the few people left who hasn't read Da Vinci Code, which makes me a prime candidate to purchase the newly available paperback edition. However, that won't likely happen, because my library just bought an entire case of the mass market paperbacks - 36 of them - as well as a large cardboard display. Just like those you'd find in bookstores at the end of a row of books. The novels are all tattle-taped and ready to be checked out and read by eager library patrons. (Did I mention I work in a university library? We have a decent fiction collection, which tends to surprise people.)