Manda Scott Manda's Comments (member since Jun 21, 2011)

Manda's comments from the Historical Fictionistas group.

(showing 1-15 of 15)

Jul 14, 2011 02:15PM

22454 Not sure this is the place - and not sure how many of you are in the UK but...

Tomorrow is the inaugural Historical Writers' Association (of which I am Chair) Festival of Historical Literature at Kelmarsh, part of the English Heritage Festival of History.

We have 31 writers on panels spread over two days with every era from the stone age (Michelle Paver) to WWII (Andrew Taylor and Laura Wilson), we have fiction and non-fiction, adult fiction, young adult fiction and children's fiction, mysteries, crime thrillers, women's fiction, romances, literary fiction and decidedly commercial non-literary fiction...

So if you're anywhere near the midlands, come along - entry is free when you enter the Festival of History - and that in itself will be an amazing experience...

Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jul 14, 2011 12:21PM

22454 Hi Kat - as one lover of Augustan Rome to another - welcome... (tho' my current Rome series is set in Neronian times - but the Boudica: Dreaming series was earlier, and just skipped Augustan Rome)
Jul 12, 2011 04:04AM

22454 Thanks, both.... it's good to be heard - and to hear others' experiences of working out the same things. There's an article in the Spectator by Ian Mortimer, who's also a fiction writer about the differences between academic historians and fiction writers you might like to look at - personally, I think it's twaddle given how readily the academics churn out cover quotes when it's their friends who are writing the fiction (so much for their treasured 'academic credibility') - link here: Dr Ian Mortimer's piece in the Spectator
Jul 10, 2011 08:46AM

22454 As a historical author, I think I have an absolute responsibility to be factual - where facts are known... but the more I delve into any period (I'm writing a spy series set in 1st century Rome just now), the more I realise that very little is actually known.

We know, for instance, the dates of Nero's ascension to the throne and his death. We know his probably ancestry, but in truth, the details of his personality are mired in spin and myth and it doesn't take much to find the internal contradictions in the narratives of, say, Tacitus or Suetonius.

So we have to fall back on other sources and surmise. Similarly, when dealing with the details of the destruction of Jerusalem and the start of the Judaean war, we're left largely with Jospehus as a source, but he's so clearly self-aggrandising, that it can be hard to be sure of what's accurate and what is just very clever spin.

We can gain insight into details of what people wore, what they ate, what they believed to be true... we can surmise details of how women were treated, slaves, animals, but details of actual lives are hard. And even the surmises can be wrong - for a long time details of Roman army uniform were taken from tablets and sculptures which have since be shown to be inaccurate for particular legions in particular places.

I have just finished writing 'the Eagle of the XIIth' and had to choose between various different contradictory stories of what happened in that time and place.

But I have also just read 'Dead Men Risen' which is an account of the Welsh Guards tour in Afghanistan in 2010 - and the author says at the start that the more he questioned people who were there, the more different and varying stories he had of what had happened.

So it seems to me that if a respected journalist, with access to detailed records and living witnesses can't accurately put together an accurate history of what happened *last year* then I, as a writer of historical fiction, will have a hard time trying to be accurate about events that happened 2,000 years ago - and so there's a limit to how far I can or should kid myself that I can do it.

In my writing, I strive to be accurate insofar as things are known or believed to have happened -but I know that history evolves, and today's historical accuracy is tomorrow's anachronism.

There is also the question of how far we *should* be accurate. I discovered in research that there were pelicans in late pre Roman Iron Age Britain - but there are no pelicans in the Boudica series, simply because they'd have caused the modern reader too much of a brain-crash and I wasn't about to start having to explain what they were... so accuracy has to be tempered with sanity.

And where historians argue (say with the location of the landings in the Roman invasion), I am free to make my own deductions. In that case, where there were solid factions on the side of either the Medway (easy crossing with one tide, but into hostile territory) or the south coast (hateful crossing taking more than one tide, but onto friendly territory so easy to land horses), I did what nobody else had done and drew out a scale model of the south coast and the continent, cut out a load of little ships to scale and realised that if they'd all come into one place, theyd have needed about 5 miles of shore line OR several days, to disembark - and that therefore they probably came in at both sites - a theory later supported by other scholars.

Sometimes it's in trying to get under the skin of the why, the where, the who, the how, we find the things the historians have not reached yet.

good question

Jul 10, 2011 08:34AM

22454 Just finished reading 'The Red Queen' by Philippa Gregory - and vastly, vastly disappointed by it - no texture, no sense of time or place, it could have been a Young Adult novel, except that young adults would have been too bored by the content (and some YA stuff is exceptionally good; this isn't)

this was my first Philippa Gregory. It will be my last.
Jul 01, 2011 01:27PM

22454 Erin wrote: "Just started The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for a reading challenge. We're doing the YA genre this month. I must admit, I'm missing HF!"

If you're doing YA, try 'Wolf Blood' by NM Browne - it's fantastic, and gets a 5* for historical accuracy, as well as being well written, engaging and fun.
Jul 01, 2011 01:26PM

22454 Just read, 'Wolf Blood' by NM Browne - a fantastic young adult historical novel set in the 1st century Britain with invading Romans and warring tribes and a young warrior girl who is a seer - and who finds herself crossing the land with a werewolf. It's a far better book than it sounds - highly recommended.
Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 28, 2011 10:49AM

22454 Three more to add to the TBR list... :)

Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 27, 2011 06:29AM

22454 Welcome Teralyn (fantastic name, might steal it for one of my new pups) - what HF do you enjoy?
Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 26, 2011 04:10AM

22454 HI Creanne - if you haven't read much HF, you're in for a very wonderful way forward... what do you think you'll like- people could recommend things in certain eras/styles for you?
Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 24, 2011 02:23PM

22454 Welcome Amy, heading off to your blog now..

Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 24, 2011 07:47AM

22454 I just added three books from GR: NightSpell just arrived...
Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 21, 2011 06:28AM

22454 Welcome, Karen - I've been reading on Kindle for Mac on my laptop, and thoroughly enjoyed it... Good luck with wading through the TBR pile.
Introduce Yourself (2344 new)
Jun 21, 2011 04:08AM

22454 Hi people... I'm a reader first and a writer second, based in the UK and very glad to have found you. Best books of this year so far for me are Robert Wilton's amazing spy novel set in Napoleonic Europe/England "The Emperor's Gold" and Rob Low's outstanding tour de force describing Wallace and Bruce 'The Lion Wakes' (probably helps that I'm a Scot and so understand the idiom, but still, it's a wonderful book). I live in Shropshire, on the English side of the Wales/England border, and when I'm not reading, I compete at agility or - like now, nurture my competition bitch through the last stages of her pregnancy. Pups due any day now!
glad to be here...
Manda Scott
22454 Becky wrote: "I'm doing a revamp of the group rules to make sure that they are clear and concise. So here they are for your reading pleasure!

1) Advertising & Spam:
Advertising your book, blog, website, giveaw..."

Got it - good,clear boundaries, thank you.

manda scott

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