May 25, 2013 @ 10:25 AM


Like an archaeological dig…

As with any good theatrical set, the landscape in which historical writers must seek out and place their characters should be more than just decorative scenery.

As I suggested in my last article, location can also reveal aspects of character and motivation that might well remain hidden unless you make the journey to see for yourself.

It’s not just the physical landscape, important as colour, contour and costume may be. At its best, like an archeological dig, the researcher may uncover something of the social and cultural strata of place as well – informing and enriching the background, and not infrequently the foreground, of a narrative. Offering clues as to why the people you are .........

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May 25, 2013 @ 10:21 AM

Market Day

Two or three Sundays every month I take a bookstall at the Old Bus Depot Market here in Canberra. It's one of the country's award-winning indoor arts and crafts markets – certainly a good place for a writer to meet readers, compare notes, sell a few books ... and incidentally gather ideas for present and future scribblings.


A few weeks ago a woman from northern New South Wales was browsing through the military books and chatting, when she remarked that she'd started breeding Walers again on her property. Several country people have said the same, and I think it’s a marvellous venture.

But this time I really pricked up my ears, as it were, for I was up to that part with the current work and .........

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May 14, 2013 @ 12:27 PM

How much research...?

There's been some good discussion on LinkedIn recently about the importance of research for writers of historical fiction. How much research do I need to undertake? Before, after, or during the writing?

What to do with all that information – something like 90 per cent of the material – that never makes it into the final book? Do I really need to visit the places I'm writing about? And so on...

Opinion and suggestions on those myriad questions that all of us who write about the past have to tackle for each new book.

From the first idea...

With my own concern to make the external facts of my novels as accurate and interesting as I can, the significance of research cannot be overstated.

It .........

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May 14, 2013 @ 12:23 PM

Becoming a character from my own story...

Many years ago I wrote a short story based on an Incident I witnessed on the evening bus going home from work.

An old, rather frayed and strange-looking woman, loaded with plastic shopping bags ('Mad Sally'), was not allowed to get on board by the somewhat  authoritarian bus driver.

'Why not please?' 'You know very well, Sal.'

And when she persisted, the driver went off in search of an Inspector who physically forced her from the seat and escorted her off the vehicle ... even though she'd placed a coin in the tray.

'You know you can't travel out of hours on your pension card.'

It was another example of the small tyrannies and obsessions with which.........

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