Are you a plotter or a “pantser” (do you heavily outline/plot or just go with the flow?)
I’m more of a pantser. I always think I ought to outline, but any time I’ve tried it, I inevitably get bogged down and wind up blocked. I think it’s because my writing style is very subconscious-driven, and plotting is done with the conscious mind, so the two don’t work well together, for me. I have friends who are brilliant plotters, and who sort their entire books out beforehand and then sit down and write them, and I envy those friends terribly, but I just can’t seem to do it, myself.
What first made you want to write historical fiction?
I don’t remember exactly what first made me want to write it, but I’ve always loved history. My family has always been keen on genealogy, so for as long as I can remember I’ve always felt a strong sense of connection to my ancestors as real people, with lives I could imagine and relate to. Besides which, both my parents liked reading about history, and our bookshelves at home were packed with historical novels, so growing up I had my pick.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading a non-fiction book called Swords for Hire: The Scottish Mercenary, by James Miller, which “traces the fortunes of a vast number of Scotsmen who left their native shores to earn a living fighting in mainland Europe” in the 17th and 18th centuries.
What period in history fascinates you the most?
I’m fascinated by a lot of different eras, but lately I seem to be drawn to the 18th century and the age of reason, probably because it was a time when there were many political, intellectual, and scientific ideas swirling around, and that leads to progress, and THAT creates conflict, so it was a very modern age, in that sense. People sitting around in coffee houses debating politics is very much my sort of scene.
What was the hardest part of weaving together the historical aspects with the modern-day part of the story?
I don’t actually find it difficult to do this, because it happens organically. I just try to always be conscious of keeping a balance, if I’m able to, so that both threads remain interesting to the reader. As the book goes along, usually the historical story becomes a little more important, or at least a little more dynamic, than the present-day one, so I try not to drag the readers back into the present at times when they might not be ready to be there.