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Researching Historical Novels

August 1st, 2014

Front cover finalI often think that writing a novel is like the tip of an iceberg. What actually emerges is a small percentage of the unseen effort beneath.

Your characters have to have a thought-out backstory, even if you don’t include it all. They usually have a before and an after, a life outside the novel. Similarly, the characters are the product of their environment. It would be difficult to write a story without imagining the landscape, culture and society of the setting where the action takes place.

Recreating the spirit of the age

The iceberg simile applies to historical novels above all. To conjure up the spirit of the age, the author needs to know its history. Historical novelists such as Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel have written very credible novels set in the medieval and Tudor periods in England. They had to immerse themselves in the past.

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Still time to win £500 in the Writers Bureau Short Story Competition

June 15th, 2012

First, thanks to Kate for last week’s blog and I must apologise. I got my fingers in a twist and called her Kate Musgrove instead of giving her correct name – Muscroft. Kate, I’m sorry!

This week I’ve been giving myself a literary treat, reading Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence. It’s a long time since I read Midnight’s Children and I’d forgotten how wonderfully he writes. It’s been made even more special by the fact that much of the action takes place in Fatehpur Sikri in India – the short-lived capital created by Akbar, the greatest Mughal emperor. I was there last year, early in the morning before many other tourists arrived. It’s a haunting location, but not difficult to imagine the magnificence that Rushdie recreates. Read the rest of this entry »




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