Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Questions and Answers on Writing the Early 20th Century Novel

A few questions I've been asked on writing an early 20th century novel ~
1) Is it harder to write a recent time than say, a medieval or ancient book?
I think it's easier to write more recent history because I can interview eyewitnesses and people who lived during those times. I love listening to firsthand accounts! My maternal grandmother was head nanny to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's daughters. Did she have stories to tell! My maternal grandad was an under-butler in the same household. I always looked forward to their stories. I listened avidly to my father's war stories as well. He served in the BEF (British Expedionary Force) and was evacuated at Dunkirk. He went on to serve in Calcutta and Burma in the British Indian Army. Unfortunately, my maternal grandfather (British Army) wouldn't speak of his experiences in the Great War. My paternal granddad (also British Army) did speak a bit. He spent most of the war as a prisoner of war in Germany. If I can find anyone else to tell me their stories of the past I listen:-)
2) Must you visit the location where your book is set?
Everyone has an opinion on whether an author must visit the place he/she writes about. I don't believe that. After all, how many historical writers have been to the year they are writing about? By the same token, do murder mystery writers have to commit murder to get it totally correct?
Although I've spent a great deal of time in both England and Scotland, I've never been to India or Germany. The climax of BLOOD MOON OVER BRITAIN, takes place in St. Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall. I spent two weeks there and a great deal of time following the cliffpaths detailed in the book. I knew at the time those paths would find their way into a book:-) No wonder Daphne du Maurier wrote almost exclusivley of Cornwall. It's quite inspiring.
3) What inspired you to write your books?
The stories my father told me of his time in WWII India inspired BLOOD MOON OVER BENGAL.
The inspiration for BLOOD MOON OVER BRITAIN came from a book I read, A MAN CALLED INTREPID. When it was released in the mid '70s it was a bombshell because it detailed espionage secrets about WWII. It's an account of the foremost Allied spy, his actions, and the German Enigma machine.
Ken Follet's and Alistair McLean's books inspired me to write PERFIDA, a thriller set inside the Third Reich.
4) What do you do if you've been away from your wip for a while or hit a dry spot while writing?
I read books set in the time period I'm writing about and period movies/dvds. Also, I make a point to read my very favorite authors when I'm working on a book.

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