In September 2022, I gave a talk at my local library about the research behind my novel Cold Blows the Wind and the reason I decided to tell Ellen Thompson and Harry Woods’s story as fiction rather than non-fiction. I am sharing the PowerPoint I used for the talk with narration added so those who … Continue reading Cold Blows the Wind – Author Talk
Old words or new?
In historical fiction, the language a writer uses can immediately propel the reader into the past by means of rhythm, sentence structure and word choice. This can be done by trying to come close to the language used in surviving records and contemporary literature or to by taking a more modern approach. Though, even when … Continue reading Old words or new?
The Bridled Tongue – Some Background
Usually there are years of research over a wide range of topics involved with any historical novel. Although much of it is, thankfully, not described explicitly in the novel, it all helps to plausibly reconstruct the world as it was. I have drawn together here a number of the blog posts I have written on … Continue reading The Bridled Tongue – Some Background
Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England
A far more succinct version of this post was published by The Coffee Pot Book Club on 9 March 2020. ‘The early-modern European witch-hunts were neither orchestrated massacres nor spontaneous pogroms. Alleged witches were not rounded up at night and summarily killed extra-judicially or lynched as the victims of mob justice. They were executed after trial and … Continue reading Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England
Norwich Castle – Palace and Prison
Norwich Castle’s square keep has dominated the centre of Norwich for centuries. It has dominated my thinking, too, for at least four years since I visited it in 2016. It could almost be said that I have obsessed over, particularly, the arrangement of the interior of the castle as a section of my latest novel, … Continue reading Norwich Castle – Palace and Prison
Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston
Despite years of cool-headed scholarship over several decades, the idea still persists in the popular imagination that during the period known as the 'witch craze' millions of women were rounded up and burned at the stake often for nothing more than their skill with herbal remedies. While thousands of women, and men, believed to be … Continue reading Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston
Unknown Unknowns and Elizabethan Earrings
A few of my favourite things. When you are writing historical fiction it is always the unknown unknowns that will bite you - those things that it has not occurred to you that you need to check. A couple of weeks ago I had a moment or several of historical fiction writer's sheer panic when … Continue reading Unknown Unknowns and Elizabethan Earrings
More than just written words?
Yesterday was National Handwriting Day in a number of countries and wonderful images of pages handwritten by various people from the past were floating around the internet. One was the the draft of a speech given by Elizabeth I to Parliament on 10 April 1563 responding to a House of Lords petition urging her to … Continue reading More than just written words?
‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England
During the 16th century, as in the centuries both before and after, marriage was a state that most aspired to - it gave both men and women status not only as full adults but, in the case of men, that of householder. Without marriage, women had few opportunities to independently support themselves. Except for those … Continue reading ‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England
A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich
My novel, The Bridled Tongue, is set partly in Norwich. Although Norwich suffered extensive bombing during World War II, there are numerous areas where Norwich's history is still plain. In 2016 I visited Norwich and so was able to glimpse the streets and sights that would have been familiar to my 16th century characters. While … Continue reading A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich