Here is my April contribution to Writing Historical Novels:
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
- L. P. Hartley, a British novelist
For a writer of historical fiction this is a sentence worth remembering. They – the people who become the characters of historical fiction – do things differently, and a writer has to express these differences in ways that are not only correct but also relevant and meaningful.
I’ll be in Halifax in May, reading at the Keshen Goodman Library
May 22th @ 7:00pm
Here is what The Halifax Reader has to say about The Winter Palace:
The Winter Palace is a world unto itself and it exists according to its own rules, a painful lesson which Varvara is forced to learn at an early age. It is a scary world in which betrayal is the norm and no friendship is safe. Varvara is warned that once you help someone achieve power, they quickly forget and assume that they accomplished it all by themselves. The atmosphere is menacing and the sense of powerlessness and unfairness is palpable. History tells us the story of Catherine the Great, but The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak brings it to life through the eyes and tongue of a servant girl.
This is my March contribution to Writing Historical Novels:
Hilary Mantel – whose two latest novels won the Booker Prize – summarizes her position on writing historical fiction in the introduction to A Place of Greater Safety, her sprawling novel of the French Revolution:
Historical accounts are not always reliable. They can often be contradictory or scarce and thus open to different interpretations. Every contradiction a historical novelist encounters in their research becomes a choice to be made, and choices lead to varying interpretations.
As part of the Ottawa’s European Book Club I discussed my novel, The Winter Palace (2012) with Dr Richard Sokoloski, from the University of Ottawa, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, a specialist in Polish language and culture who has widely published on PolishRussian cultural history of the 18th century.
Thanks to the Polish Embassy in Ottawa for making the evening possible. And thanks to Ottawa readers who came up with wonderful comments and questions.
Here is a link to photos from the event.
EUNIC poster 3