Bryn Hammond Bryn's Comments


Bryn's comments from the Writing Historical Fiction group.

Note: Bryn is no longer a member of this group.

(showing 1-16 of 16)

Sep 10, 2012 02:27AM

39199 James wrote: "A point that worries me is the reaction of the descendants of a real historical character..."

In my opinion, then, James, as a writer, you simply can't worry about that. Your concern for descendants' sensibilities ought to be zero. I may be an extremist.

On the other hand, I don't like to slander the dead - it's them I tread gently with. I'm conscious of the ghosts over my shoulder while I write. If I've given them their human dignity or written with a certain sympathy, even for the bastards, I'm fairly happy.
Introductions (324 new)
Jun 30, 2012 03:09PM

39199 Welcome, Helena. That's quite a tale, about your writing/publishing history; and welcome too to the great new world of indie publishing. You have an interesting set of novels there, I'll go investigate. Goodreads is a fantastic home for discussing both reading and writing. Hear, hear to what you say about historical fiction.
May 21, 2012 04:28PM

39199 Robert wrote: "The best description of this writing experience came from a small book written 10 years ago by Chris Baty, where he encourages writers to put their inner editor in quarantine, create strong charact..."

I like this... and most the phrase 'a mischievous sense of boldness' - that's just wonderful and feels true to experience. If you free your characters (or people, as I like to call them - to get right away from thinking of them as artificial constructs) they are going to do bold things with your book, such as you, with your 'inner editor' (I suspect he ought to be banished) wouldn't have dared to do. And about the result you think, oops... but I like it...
May 21, 2012 03:20AM

39199 Yup, mine are bloody talkative, and have taken over my head space and crowded me out. Their lives are way more exciting than mine so that's fine. Isn't writing fun? Waking you up at night is pushing it, though. Do you have to switch on the light and make notes?
May 20, 2012 05:13PM

39199 Don't mind us, Robert. -I have a woman friend madly into Westerns; me, other than Deadwood on TV and the old films, you know, Magnificent Seven - and I have a record of theme music from old Westerns that I love - other than that, I'm ignorant in your area. But GR is fantastic and you'll find heaps of people in your line.
May 20, 2012 03:18PM

39199 As another woman... where's the grounds for amazement that I like war stories, and despise what goes under the label of romance? (on supposition: never opened one) We're people. People have different make-ups. It's a scale at most and I even hate to grant you that. True I like those social issues in my war stories...
May 18, 2012 02:43PM

39199 Anna wrote: "Bryn, I just read Tamburlaine last week (why it's so present in my thoughts). It's not exactly an exploration of Mongol culture! ..."

No, it isn't. Dead right there. -That's why I didn't trouble to go to Tamburlaine until late in the day. But when I did I was glad, and found much much more food for thought than I'd have guessed. It's even hard to say what... have to read again.

The historical figures, him and Genghis, don't have much in common; and my fictional figure has nothing in common with Tamburs, and yet. I ought to have known a great poet is worth consulting.

Yes, conquer the world: the Mongols went from victory to crazy victory until they thought, why stop? - A thought that began late in G's life or after. Marlowe can help me understand that.
May 18, 2012 02:25AM

39199 It's a kind of tradition for people to have fixed or vivid portraits of Marlowe. In my youth I was scandalised by my Penguin (scandalised by my penguin?) with an introduction that tells us there's no evidence as to Marlowe's sexuality, and goes on to contort Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus into religiosity at least if not quite a church Christianity (he tries).

Meanwhile I need to get a serious grip on Tamburlaine for my own purposes. It's the only great work about a Scythian shepherd-king and must be taken into account when I write on Mongols. It's terrific and tremendous, we know that much.
May 14, 2012 05:06PM

39199 Robert wrote: "My own personal take is this:
Shakespeare moved easily into history for two reasons:..."


Thanks, Robert, this feeds me with stuff.
From royal 'biographical drama' - great term that - outwards, into a big canvas of the late war (clumsily done, forgive me Sh., and with strange satiric charactersiation for instance of Joan of Arc - I wish he'd tackled her later). Onwards into other histories, as he learnt.

And Walter Scott too, makes sense as an evolution in his work, that led him to discover or create hist fic as we know it.

Poor Scott, neglected now, was so massively influential... I am just now reading about the lit scene in Russia, and Scott was as big to them as he can have been at home. In France too. What he discovered or created clearly excited the world, and they imitated him everywhere.
May 14, 2012 04:24PM

39199 Robert wrote: "The issue of fictionalizing historical figures goes back to no less that Shakespeare (the founder of historical fiction)and Walter Scot (the founder of historical novel and a conscious follower of ..."

And in answer to Robert: I'm greatly interested in early hist fic, origins of hist fic, how they did it in centuries past. As you say, Sh. was as conscientious as we feel the need to be; I believe he quoted whole swathes of Plutarch, fiddling around the edges for verse. I like to study his HF - think of those plays as HF, to see what he does and doesn't do, what he thinks his latitude is and isn't.

And how did he... distinguish himself from what went before? When did epic end and historical fiction begin? You say Sh. is the founder of the latter - in English at least? I wonder how he came to define what he was doing. And of course he manages to be the original and best.
May 14, 2012 04:04PM

39199 Anna wrote: "But yes, more to the group point, fiction is our best way to explore the nature of these amazing people. Trying to write them honestly and clearly is both fun and frustrating:... "

Kit Marlowe - as I'll call him like I know him - that intriguing guy, is a hero of mine. Do you find you can use his plays, Anna, to get into his head? This is dicey, again, since his work has led to such different interpretations. However... I have a trust in the artist's eye, which might catch him there when the scholar's eye, that operates differently, doesn't put together a personality.

Oh that's crudely put, overstated perhaps, but I do believe in a possibility along those lines. Nothing against scholars (witness my bookshelves).

But I also have to do with poetry. And the issues are pretty endless, but - the short version -

Okay, I write about historic Mongols. The Mongols wrote these figures into half-fiction - an epic chronicle - at the end of their lives or shortly after. They had already begun to make poetry of their lives, and whatever versifications and fictionalisations were in circulation, they plopped into the chronicle of events. (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does this too).

My interest is in the fiction they made of themselves - alongside the facts (which I am entirely interested in too). To me, the art tells as much about them, even when they are putting made-up lines into people's mouths, even when they romanticise. The way they romanticise tells us what they found romantic.

Don't know where I'm going with this; except, dealing with poetry and facts both, trying to extract the truth from each, not discounting either (not pulling the poetry apart for facts, but using the poetry itself) --- well, it's interesting to do.
Introductions (324 new)
May 13, 2012 04:12PM

39199 Anna wrote: "I love Mongols! Several years ago I read a book called Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. I forget the author's ..."

Ah, I can tell you that: Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - yes, and he has a background in tribal peoples, understands them - has written on Native Americans. And the dear man got his book, and hence my guy Genghis - seen through new and unhostile eyes - into the non-fiction bestseller lists. I love Jack Weatherford.

Us indie folk will be here to welcome you if ever and whenever those agents and publishers p you off too much.
Introductions (324 new)
May 11, 2012 02:43PM

39199 Yes, hello, Anna, and it's a giant step to have an agent.
Me, I learnt about indie and decided I'm an independent sod, after 8 queries to agents. I've heard 90 or so is an average figure before one gets an agent, or do I exaggerate?

It'd be great to talk with fellow hist fic writers.
Jan 28, 2012 01:11PM

39199 Petunia wrote: "I have placed a flood in Suffolk England in 1902, which was actually a year without flooding. I use data from other floods in the same area in other years. There are no historical ramifications; th..."

I think that counts as accuracy. You're accurate about floods in that area. The year matters to no-one (unless you were there). This is the sort of change I feel within our licence, and necessary for a novelist.
Jan 27, 2012 06:46PM

39199 My cast of characters are people who lived, and that being so, I feel a strong duty to them to distort nothing they said or did – unless the report is suspect. I also feel an obligation to the society in general, not to muck about with them, not to defame or traduce them. It's almost as if their ghosts are hovering over me. I'd expect a tap on the shoulder if I slandered one of them.

In my case, I have very circumstantial material, so I can't stray from that, only extrapolate. I have a sort of holy text.
Introductions (324 new)
Jan 27, 2012 06:23PM

39199 I'm Bryn, and write historical fiction on the 12th-13th century Mongols. I have the first of three out (independently published and proud).

I crave to talk to fellow writers about the issues and the ups and downs of creativity and historical research and getting your book into existence.


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