Monday, 2 July 2012


SCBWI's roving reporter, Alison Peters checked out the panel session on historical novels....
Some of the points from the Writing History panel:

Belinda Murrell - Author
-       Writes history because history is HOT- it has danger, intrigue, adventure
-       Sets out to write a book that kids would love, not a history lesson- too boring.
-       Says historical fiction is a little bit like fantasy, a bit more dangerous
-       Even though she doesn’t set out to write a history lesson, kids do learn from reading her books- it’s sugar coated learning on issues like grief, loss, and courage.
-       Her time slip novels are her most popular
-       Belinda likes to go to where her books are set
-       Author must create a whole world
-       Belinda mentioned Penguin’s Australian history series, Girls in History

Pamela Rushby - Author
-       History makes Pamela go WOW. It's this Wow factor that attracts her and readers to these stories
-       Pamela has written 20 historical novels for children and adults, everything from Egyptian history to Vietnam, from ritual sacrifices to entertaining the troops in Vietnam, but every one of her stories starts with that initial Wow!
 -       Often she 'trips' over stories while looking for something else.
 -       She says that the more she researches, the more she finds, often in serendipitous places BUT one can get bogged down in too much research
 -       There is a time that the research must stop and the writing start. (A deadline helps).
 -       Pamela also likes to travel to the locations she writes about but when she can't Lonely Planet and the internet are very useful resources.               
Zoe Walton - Publisher, Random House
 -       Zoe says there are many kinds of historical fiction but no matter what the period or the style of writing she wants them all to be thrilling and full of drama and action
 -       Time Slip is a neat device and a great way to ease modern kids into history BUT there's a trap: you have to get the details of the time slip exactly right- it has to make sense and be consistent.

Lisa Berryman - Publisher, Harper Collins
- Harper Collins has a v strong history list
- Bring Up the Bodies sells 1700 copies per week
- she chooses work depending on how interesting the topic is, how much has already been published, how well written it is,  and how seemless the seeding of the research is - no info dumps.
- the appetite for historical fiction is growing, fed by film and television  particularly
Downtown Abbey and Who Do you Think You Are?
- She also believes it is enjoying strength in the market because in times of uncertainty, we look to the past.

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