Hashtag Hist-Fic

A new literary community blossoms on Twitter.

Hashtag Hist-Fic

There’s something ironic about the hyper-fast, catch-this-latest-meme platform of Twitter being used to talk about the long-dead past. But bringing historical fiction to the freeform conversations on Twitter is exactly what two writers have done by creating a hashtag that’s more than just a string of words.

Janna Noelle and Sydney Young first “met” on Twitter, chatting as they warmed up to apply for the online mentorship program Pitch Wars. But it wasn’t until they met in real life that the plan to create a historical-fiction-focused community on Twitter emerged.

Sydney, as they both tell the story, badgered Janna until she agreed to join forces. They named their hashtag #HFChitChat and launched a Twitter account with regularly scheduled conversations framed around pre-designed themes.

For 2020, Janna added “reading badges,” like merit badges for different types of historical fiction, as a way for participants to expand their reading. (Readers can earn badges for reading, say, a book by a transgender or non-binary author; a book more than 50 years old; a translated work, etc.)

The chats allow far-flung members of the historical fiction reading and writing community to connect — perhaps epitomized by the connection between the hosts themselves, as Janna lives in Canada, while Sydney is in Texas.

“[We] connect, support each other, promote HF as a genre, and celebrate our love for it,” Janna says.

They’ve had so much fun bringing historical fiction lovers together that Sydney has even bigger plans.

“I’ve been after Janna for us to do a video or audio chat someday,” she says, and they just started an Instagram account to amplify the Twitter chats.

Starting today, a new round of #HFChitChat will begin — a daily posting game lasting through Sunday.

“All are invited to post and share and ‘like’ what others have done,” Sydney says. “Just have fun while raising awareness of this amazing genre.”

And if all goes as planned, Sydney, Janna, and the rest (me, too!) will shift the chatter from Twitter back into the real world in June 2021, when the Historical Novel Society takes its biannual conference to San Antonio.

As Sydney puts it, “We writers need our crew.”

Carrie Callaghan is the author of the historical novels Salt the Snow (2020) and A Light of Her Own (2018), both from Amberjack/CRP. She lives in Maryland with her family.

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