History People:  Sue Barnard, Writing the Book You Want to Read

Romance with a twist

It’s always a pleasure to welcome my friend and fellow author Sue Barnard onto the blog. She tells us how the advice to “write the book you want to read” led her into historical fiction. I’ve had a sneak peek at Sue’s latest book, Heathcliff (more about it below), and so I know you’re in for a treat when it’s published. Continue reading

Nursing in World War I: the French Experience

World War I - military nurse

Writing a credible historical novel is like doing an obstacle course with your hands tied. A significant challenge for me in writing The House at Zaronza was to find out about nursing from a French viewpoint on the Western Front during World War I, where about a third of the novel is set. Countless books exist about “the war to end wars” but few of them give much space to French experiences of nursing. Continue reading

Period Pieces: How Much History Should be in Your Fiction?

Mantel - Bring Up the Bodies

A fellow author interviewed me recently for a forthcoming slot on her blog. I won’t spill any beans, except to say that she asked me some thought-provoking questions, one of which was about writing historical fiction, my genre of choice. I gave a concise answer, and I still believe what I said, but have been reflecting on it ever since.

Every genre of writing presents problems to overcome. But reading Hilary Mantel’s novels, among others, has made me reflect on the difficulties of writing historical fiction. I hasten to add I don’t have the answers to the questions I raise below.  Continue reading