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Why write historical fiction?
Peter has always been fascinated with telling stories from the past. He was a history geek at a young age. Historical fiction brought the two interests together and felt like a natural fit.
He believes it is important to write about historical fiction because it enables people to learn in a way that does not involve lists of dates and battles, or when kings and queens reigned. Instead, historical fiction helps to bring the stories of ordinary people to life.
He also sees reading as an important escape from negative news stories and the serious world we live in today. He hopes his work gives people an escape, helps them to relax at the end of a busy day, and gives them an opportunity to get their creative juices flowing.
How important is open access to resources for a writer?
Access to resources is a huge part of writing historical fiction. Wikipedia is a great starting point, but after that you need to make sure you have your facts right, and drill down into the detail. So having open access to sources, whether it is through university libraries or through libraries like those at the National Libraries of Scotland, or learned societies and trade bodies is invaluable. All of these resources, especially the online resources make it easier and quicker for a writer to start putting their story together. It saves them from having to visit a specific site to look at an un-digitised resource, or having to pay a lot of money at the early stages of research project for a piece of material that has a restrictive license.
How can you give back to the research community?
When Peter does any promotion, usually through literary festivals and book groups, he is always careful to highlight where his research has come from. Whether it is the University of Edinburgh Anatomical Museum, the National Library of Scotland, or any other resource he likes to give credit for the information they have shared with him.
Peter also updates pages on Wikipedia when he can.
What are your top 3 tips for getting started writing their first novel?
- Keep a pad and a pen by your bed at night-time so that you can write your notes when inspiration strikes! Great ideas often come just as you are drifting off to sleep, or when you wake in the middle of the night.
- Read as much as you can, and read as varied a collection of materials as you can. The best readers often make the best writers.
- Have a go! Everyone has a book inside of him or her… but if you don’t start, or even sit down to sketch out an idea, you will never get that book onto paper.
Creative Commons has useful help page about how to properly attribute information to the source. Read more here https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Best_practices_for_attribution
Go through the notes you made in your journal. Identify and write up the correct attributions for each of your sources.
Get started writing
Follow Peter’s third tip and sit down to sketch out the idea for your story or novel.