Saturday, 12 January 2019
Why I chose to write historical fiction
In a recent interview I was asked why I chose to write historical novels, and more specifically why I like to write novels set in the Victorian and Edwardian era. This was my answer, which I kept rather short, otherwise I'd gone on for hours!
I love history. I love the idea of writing about what might have happened in those times.
There was so much happening – new inventions, new discoveries and events that shattered and shaped the world such as wars.
It was a time when people were desperately poor and death rates high, and it was a time of opulence and making fortunes. Self-made industrious men could be fortunate enough to become rich through hard work or invention and change the way their families lived. Cities expanded and the population grew creating hardship for the poor and opportunities for those who grabbed it.
I enjoy the Edwardian era because of all the changes that happened during that time. Before WWI generally women were at home raising children. They had no voice in the world, little or no power. During WWI women had to step into the roles previously held only by men. They had to go to work and leave the home to help with the war effort. With the men away, woman were faced with a freedom they’d never had before. Then, after WWI, the world changed again and women couldn’t be silent anymore. They became more prominent in history and started taking control of their lives by getting the vote, and working outside of the home, etc. It’s all so fascinating.
I like exploring the idea of families, how they lived and worked, from the rich to the poor. I’ve written characters living in slums and others living in grand country estates. Each aspect has its own fascination and writing how those characters coped and survived is a great source of inspiration for my plots.
I think the women’s fashion of both Victorian and Edwardian is just so beautiful and feminine. The changing shapes of the dress from the Victorian period to the Edwardian era is vast, from hooped crinolines to hobble skirts.
Women were often the hidden power behind the successful men and that is interesting and worth exploring. I read a lot of diaries written by women of those times and try to explore as many historical sites of interest as I can.
Visiting country houses helps my imagination to set the scene for my characters who would have lived on those types of estates, just as I like visiting the mean narrow streets of cities, which would have houses the desperately poor.
My ancestry is Yorkshire and so I set many of my books in Yorkshire. York is a favourite place of mine. The history there is amazing. I enjoy researching the town and surrounding countryside for inspiration.
History is diverse and ever-evolving. It gives writers such a scope to draw from in which we create our worlds.
A selection of my books