As I said on Facebook a few weeks ago, I have a confession to make — the work in progress is contemporary rather than historical fiction. “And how did that happen?” you say.
Last November I went on a writers retreat in Monterery CA. The theory being, if you’re going to go on a retreat, it might as well be an interesting place. While there, I was assigned a mentor, a lively woman named Gina who helped me shape a pitch for novel 5 – The Admiral’s Wife – and pushed me to enhance the conflict within that novel.
Nearing the end of the retreat, I asked Gina for her thoughts on what novel to write next. I had three ideas: one set during WWII as a sort of sequel to Lies Told in Silence; another based on the life of Robert the Bruce from whom I’m descended; and a third featuring twins with a contemporary setting. I sketched a few points about each story and without a moment’s hesitation, Gina said to write the twins story.
So here I am with an outline prepared and seventeen chapters – about 42000 words – written.
I have managed to find a few historical tidbits to include: the setting for one scene is at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (see photo above), originally built in 1903; and the setting for another scene is at Shakespeare and Company in Paris, an English-language bookstore located in a 17th century building (see photo below).
With no requirement to research a particular historical time period in order to effectively capture its culture, values, politics, events, language, fashion and so on, writing contemporary fiction is a more straightforward process. Don’t get me wrong. There is still a need for research but in my case it’s confined to topics like ‘waterfront bars in Boston’, or ‘loft styles in New York city’, or ‘the election cycle for US senators’. (If you’re interested, I’ve writing about the productivity burden of historical fiction.)
Most importantly, I’m having fun and Gina has become my agent. Fingers crossed that she’ll find a publisher for The Admiral’s Wife, the dual timeline novel set in Hong Kong, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned a time or two 🙂
PS – ten years ago I never could have imagined writing a sixth novel!
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.