A-Z Challenge 2015Before you mention any animal in a historical novel, make sure that:

  • the animal existed at that time and in that place
  • the animal was used in the way you have described

You should know which animals were hunted and which animals helped with hunting. Were animals kept as pets?

This article provides useful information about wild animals in Britain during the Early Medieval period.

Dog sledding, Tromso, Norway

Dog sledding, Tromso, Norway

This post concludes my series about writing historical fiction. I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts. I will be back in a few days with a summary of what I’ve learned from it.

A-Z Challenge 2015

How is writing historical fiction for young adults or children different?As with all fiction, the difference lies in the length of the novel, the use of teenage or child characters. What else? Deborah Swift describes the differences in this article.

Mother and child, North Cape, Norway

Mother and child, North Cape, Norway

A-Z Challenge 2015Writing advice often includes this one:

Write what you know.

Not all writing instructors agree with that. Some even say it can be better to write what you don’t know. “Write what fascinates you,” they say.

Nevertheless, many authors do write what they know. It’s easier to describe places you’ve been to. It’s easier to get inside the head of a character who’s been through experiences that are similar to yours.

History, by its very nature, is unknown. You can’t rely on your experiences or on knowing a place, because they were different then.

A-Z Challenge 2015Even trees and plants need to be researched. Some might not have existed then. Some might not have grown in locations where they are to be found now.

Jerusalem: blossoming tree

Jerusalem: blossoming tree

A-Z Challenge 2015Readers need to see the scenes. You have to show these scenes without losing sight of the story.

It’s good to depict several different scenes, indoors and outdoors, to give a sense of that other world.

A-Z Challenge 2015This is where things get complicated (as is often the way with religion). You don’t just have to describe religious practices. You have to get into the characters’ heads and work out why beliefs make them act and talk as they do.

In this article, Amanda McCrina claims that the vast majority of historical fiction mostly ignores religious practices and the pervasiveness of religion in people’s lives, making them more modern in outlook than they really were. This makes life easier for the modern writer and also makes it easier for the modern reader to identify with the characters.

A-Z Challenge 2015We modern day authors are so lucky. Whatever we might wonder, almost any question we want to ask will have been answered on the Internet.

Which songs were popular in England in January, 1922?
What was the world’s first postage stamp?

You can find all the answers at the touch of a button or two.


Sometimes there are mistakes on the Internet. Sometimes you need more detail than you can find on the Internet. The Internet is not enough. It can be very helpful and it can set you on the right path, but it doesn’t replace detailed and well-researched


A-ZChallenge2015What does the craft of writing a historical novel involve?

  • Creating an absorbing story set in the past, yet satisfying for modern readers. I think you have to constantly balance those two seemingly opposing requirements. Sometimes it’s necessary to make characters more “modern” than they really are, to have them make decisions based on currently logic rather than steeping them in religion and superstition. Otherwise readers will have a hard job understanding their motives.
  • Bringing the era to life. You have to set readers in the period and place of the novel and then move them forward, so that they feel as if they are really there.
Norway: Trondenes Museum

Norway: Trondenes Museum

P.S. I will reply to your comments, but it might take a couple of days.

A-Z ChallengeYes, it’s finally time to reveal my theme for the A-Z Challenge this year.

In 2011, I didn’t have a theme. I posted mainly on the themes of this blog: writing and social anxiety.

In 2012, I wrote about places in Jerusalem.

In 2013, my theme was memoir writing. I learned a lot that year. One day, I might put that knowledge to use.

In 2014, I highlighted authors, including some of my new friends all published by Crooked Cat.

In 2015, ….



Writing Historical Fiction

I will publish 26 posts on the theme of writing historical fiction. I’ve never written historical fiction and don’t know much about it, so I’m hoping all you experts out there will help me by adding comments to my posts. I’m really excited to be doing this and I do have a little idea about where this might lead.


Happy Birthday!


This blog is six years old today.

This was my first post:

Speech is silver. Silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

So much has happened since then. Thank you for being part of it.