Thursday, May 8, 2014

Favourite Inspirations from History

The Writer has a unique relationship with History.  It starts in our childhood, when we know we want to write, and we start recording in our heads, impression by impression, what makes life meaningful. 

For me, those early morning trips to the rink for my brother's hockey practises (sorry John, it was not your journey to AllStar that was on my mind, but the Centre 70 library next door! Love ya, though!) that illuminated my love of the history that came before our time.  I devoured every book on European history, especially kings and queens that I could find in that small Frontenac County library.

Life has been busy.  I made my living in a modern emerging sector, Communications, and did very well at it, even working for a number of years in high tech.  But history is still my first love, and I have spent as much time reading, writing, and thinking about historical events as I have making a living and enjoying my profession. 

My profession is now writing, and I love it!  I'm just fine-tuning my trilogy, Legend of the Three Crowns, and my agent, Sam Hiyate will soon be offering it for publication.  It's a literary crossover historical fiction fantasy about a princess who discovers what it will take to be queen.  As far removed from my own life as one could get you could imagine, but in fact, those who know me will see the place it comes from. 

The process of working through this book, its characters, theme, the deep emotional place that gave birth to its journey has been a revelation.  The hours, years, I spent reading history, fiction and non-fiction, and everything in between have all been poured into this book.  I have travelled from places in Canada to the U.K., the U.S, and Europe to research this story, and have written on planes, trains, garden benches, my mother's sofa, coffee shop armchairs, sanctuaries, writing retreats, my living room and my spiffy renovated office.  Creating my own history.

Most recently, I spent a week in the Bahamas with fellow HF writer Cryssa Bazos, who strangely did not mind spending 6 hours a day or more scribbling in a notepad or banging on a keyboard, while the sun shone warm outside on a clear March day.  All in all a wonderful holiday. I rewrote 100's of pages of my ms that week.  And we did find time to visit historical sites and the pirate museum!  One day, Cryssa got a fb message about posting your favourite authors of all time, so we took a break to make our lists.  My list is a testament to the resonance of the historical inspirations in my life.

On the week that the fabulous HF writer, Barbara Kyle, will be attending WCDR's RoundTable, I thought it a good time to share the list with my readers.  Hope you find some favourites of your own, or find time to read them and create new favourites!  Sadly, some of the Canadian names on this list have passed away, but their work is part of my history, and the collective history of what makes us Canadian.  And for a Canadian Literary Historical Fiction writer, that is a fact of relevant and significant inspiration.

1.      Alexandre Dumas

2.      John Meade Falkner (Moonfleet)

3.      Anne Bronte

4.      Emily Bronte

5.      Jane Austen

6.      Hugh MacLennan

7.      Robertson Davies

8.      Dr. Suess

9.      Ivy Wallace (Pookie children's stories)

10.  Charles Dickens

11.  W.O. Mitchell

12.  Hester W. Chapman (historical biographer)

13.  Shakespeare

14.  Brothers Grimm

15.  Bruno Bettelheim (child psychologist and the writer of the Meaning of Fairy Tales)

16.  Margaret Mitchell

17.  F. Scott Fitzgerald

18.  Paul Quarrington

19.  Alistair MacLeod

20.  Mordecai Richler

21.  Leonard Cohen

22.  Farley Mowat

23.  Nino Ricci