The best part of doing a Creative Writing degree, is that you get to play with so many different genres that you may never have explored on your own. One module I’ve really enjoyed this semester has been one about writing Historical Fiction, a type of fiction I’ve never had any proper experience with. It took a while to get into it, to see all the possibilities and understand the amount of research that’s necessary to write good historical fiction, but I got there in the end, and it ended up being one of my favourite modules out of all three years at uni. I think what I’ve come to really enjoy about Historical fiction in general, is that it just shows how people have always been people; we’ve fallen in love, we’ve been angry, we’ve been awkward and hopeful, for as long as we’ve been around.
I started off the semester by thinking I wanted to write my piece about Jeanne de Clisson, the Lioness of Brittany, a badass lady who basically became a pirate out of revenge, in 1340’s France. However, research makes you fall down weird rabbit holes, and somehow I ended up reading about the British prison hulks on the Thames, in the late 1700s-early 1800s. I also got into reading about the Battle of Trafalgar (something we learnt very little about in History in Norwegian schools), and I found out that a lot of the prison hulks were “retired” battle ships. Imagine serving out a jail sentence on a ship you once fought for your country on, was a thought that just couldn’t leave me, and I started spinning this story about a man who was sentenced to jail for desertion, and ended up serving his sentence on the same ship which he had tried to desert from. It became a short story I really enjoyed writing, and it was fun to be able to try out a bit more “pretentious”, old-fashioned language. Hopefully not too pretentious or old-fashioned though, I feel like there is a fine line between creating a feeling of “old”, and just boring your readers, when it comes to Historical Fiction.
However, if you want to read the piece, I’ve put it here under the “Read More” bar.
Question of the Day: Do you like historical fiction? If so, why?