Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reaching into the past

There are those who will say disparagingly that historical fiction writers simply reach into the past and grab a few titivating bits of history and use them to create a story of our own liking. That is exactly what we do. Some would also accuse us of showing disregard for the circumstances surrounding the items we have selected as the basis of the story. That we should never do. Serious historical fiction writers can use their creative skills to breathe life into the past, particularly aspects of it which are rarely at the forefront of historical writing. We can explore the physical, emotional and psychological impact of events and issues which shaped the world on ordinary people and we can encourage our readers to share the grief and elation, the fear and joy which accompanied those events and issues. I think that is why historical fiction remains such a popular genre and gives rise to such gems as Kate Grenville's Secret River and Hilary Mantel.

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