On Hist Fic Saturday
I am delighted to welcome back to the blog the historical fiction writer
Kate has just published her latest historical novel, The Road to Newgate and I am thrilled that she has taken the time to talk to me about why she writes historical fiction.
Why I write historical fiction by Kate Braithwaite
It sounds a bit daft, but in all honesty I started writing historical fiction because I couldn’t think of anything to write about. I had wanted to be a writer for years: as a total bookworm and English graduate, I had grown up believing I would write my own novel one day. But what about? I had no idea. Over the years I would make the odd stab at a short story or opening chapter only to abandon it when I realised, pretty quickly, that I wasn’t a literary genius and stellar prose didn’t pour out from me in the way I imagined it might. That was how it was through my twenties. I did very little writing - but a lot of thinking about writing. I did a lot of walking around observing things and choosing the words I would use to describe things – that blind girl on the train that was wearing a watch, that abandoned bingo hall with broken windows, the adult student I taught who always wore four cardigans and hadn’t washed for a year – but no book was on the cards.
Then I had children. Even when I was pregnant I remember thinking that this was it. If I didn’t get to it, I was never going to produce this imaginary book. While I was pregnant I decided I would get cracking on writing something serious but still, I didn’t do it. Instead I carried on working and daydreaming. But after my son was born and I was on maternity leave I picked up a second-hand copy of The Sun King by Nancy Mitford. In it, I read about the affair of the poisons that threatened to engulf Louis XIV’s court in the 1680’s. Here was something to write about! I had carried around in a notebook for years with a cutting from a newspaper article about Fay Weldon. She said, to paraphrase, that writers should write the books they want to read. I knew I’d love a book about the affair of the poisons. Finally, I had something to write about.
Of course, there are other reasons why I write historical fiction. I love the genre and have always loved a good story, set in the past, particularly one where I can learn something new along the way. I’ve always gravitated toward reading crime novels too – from Agatha Christie to Ian Rankin and PD James, I enjoy a mystery and a darker side of life (in fiction mind you, not reality!). These two loves have really informed the kind of novels I write.
And having now written two historical novels, I can also say I write them because I enjoy the whole process. My stories – my work in progress included – tend to be based on real events and people so there is a great deal of research and puzzling out why people did what they did and what kind of characters must they be to make the choices they made. Part of the historical novelists job is to join the dots and fill in the gaps in a plausible manner. I love that! Another key part is to write a good novel. The facts are important but the story needs to work within the novel form or readers might as well just pick up a narrative history book. That’s the part that probably challenges me the most. I hope I’m getting better with each book I write.
|Crooked Cat Books|
16 July 2018
Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.
Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.
When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all...
Kate Braithwaite grew up in Edinburgh but now lives with her family in Pennsylvania. The Road To Newgate is her second novel.
Twitter @ KMBraithaite
Huge thanks to Kate for spending time with us today and for sharing her love of writing historical fiction.The Road to Newgate is available to buy from Amazon UK and other good book stores.