So, I’m studying this MOOC module on historical fiction, which has my brain zinging about in all directions. We’ve had a canter through the historical novel, and there have been some great seminars by authors of historical fiction. Each author has been drawn by a period in time, or an event, or a curiosity about something. So, what’s yours?
My curiosities are often inspired by place or people. I would love to go back to Tudor England, but only on the right side, as I think that life in those times could have wound up being pretty short. C J Sansom, Hilary Mantel are perhaps two great writers which mean I needn’t get in the Blue Box, since they bring the period to life. It’s thanks to my history teacher at school, Miss Boneham, that I adore the Tudor period of British History.
I recently wrote a short story about a character I came across whilst reading Chistopher Colombus’ log. I find the great explorers fascinating; what must they have been like to set out in a ship to unknown lands at a time when the commonly held belief was that the world was flat! I was intrigued by one of the crew, a prisoner, imprisoned for murder, who escaped to join the crew. He had never been on a boat. What must he have been like for him? And so, my short story was born. Don’t get me wrong, I would never have been in that position to do it, but the curiosity for it inspired my story.
I am also curious about another person I came across when we were in Patagonia earlier this year, who set up a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere. He was English and in 1902, set off with his wife to make a better life. I want to see what I can dig out about him, or people like him, and see what bubbles up from that.
As to a period in time, if not the Tudors, then it would be at the time of the revolution in psychotherapy. Freud, Jung… but that’s because of my professional background, I’m sure. That post-modernist phase of history when everything seemed possible. It must have been such an exciting time to be around in, and probably less so as a woman (again).
So, what would be yours? Where would the Blue Box take you, and why?
The photo is of me with THE Tardis at BBC TV centre, two years ago. I look ready to go anywhere, don’t you think?