Remember when, back in January, I told you that I was experimenting with the idea of a Draft 0 for A Treasonous Path, and I’d let you know how it worked for me? Well, it would seem it worked well enough, because I’m doing it again. Six months later, and I’m at work on Draft 0 of Tom’s third book – for now TW3. Continue reading
Yesterday I spent a good deal of time perusing lists of names of Guild members in 16th century Bruges. It’s one of the many wonders of the Internet that you can find this sort of thing for the asking… and, as I said, I ended up spending a good chunk of the afternoon going through list after list, copying the promising ones in my notebook – one column for given names, one for family names – trying them out for size, and even involving a Dutch-speaking friend for a sense of how a few of them would be pronounced… Continue reading
They stopped Walsingham and Paulo, my Italian, whom they seemed resolved to rob [… and] another Englishman in his company, called Skeggs, as I remember.
On the twelfth of November 1581 Elizabeth’s Ambassador in Paris, Sir Henry Cobham, wrote to the all-powerful Secretary of State – and spymaster – Sir Francis Walsingham . It was almost in passing that the ambassador slipped in this bit of information about the misadventure of Sir Francis’s much younger cousin, nineteen-year-old Thomas, riding as a diplomatic courier between London and Paris. Continue reading
The 18th century is lazily going by in the fictional English town of Airenchester, when we meet hour hero, Thaddeus Grainger, the type of young gentleman of means and taste. A bright, clever, careless boy in the words of his doting housekeeper, Thaddeus is in equal parts bored and disillusioned when it comes to the fine society he confidently belongs to, but that is the way of things, and what is a fellow to do – except navigate the currents, and keep apart from the worst of it? In fact, Thaddeus’s only rebellion is to cultivate the close friendship of reasonably genteel but penniless William Quilby, a vicar’s son and journalist… Continue reading
And so I learned that, while I’d always assumed that people walked to the Theatre via Bishopsgate, Bishopsgate Street and Shoreditch, this was not the case. Not that the Burbages wouldn’t have liked such a straightforward route to their playhouse – but there was opposition from the local landowners – particularly from the Earl of Rutland, who effectively blocked the easy access… Continue reading
Some historical characters seem so very, very perfect for fictional treatments, don’t they? Whether they have lived enormously interesting lives, full of drama and colour, or we know tantalizingly little about them – just enough to make us want to fill the gaps – they practically beg to be written. Continue reading
There is this competition, you see – short stories, historical setting… I really, really want to submit. I’ve known about it for quite some time – and, in fact, for some reason, at first I thought the deadline was in late April. So I began brainstorming ideas back in March, and went through old notebooks, mining for those little Could This Be A Story notes, or hastily sketched half-page notions, and wrote down lists of promising ideas… and then hit on something I liked. Something that was tied to my work in progress. Something promising. Continue reading
One historical author of my acquaintance describes something she calls “historical serendipity.” This is the condition of knowing one’s period so well and so intimately that when one reaches a point in the story where it’s necessary to… (gasp) make something up, one’s fictional choices are not only historically plausible – but very often turn out to be the ex post facto honest-to-goodness truth, as well.
Did it ever happen to you? Continue reading
Once upon a time I came across an interview or an article – I wish I could remember – in which a historical novelist gleefully told about placing in his latest novel’s prologue a handful of elements that could easily pass for anachronisms. He gleefully anticipated the mails, weblogs and reviews pointing out his “blunders”, and the joys of answering back that, in fact, a lack of written record for some thing before a certain date could not be taken as proof that the same thing did not exist… Continue reading