Novel 6 is Emerging

As I said on Facebook a few weeks ago, I have a confession to makethe 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!

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (either through WordPress or by using the widget on the left sidebar)

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, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Mary,

    I read your article on the burden of historical fiction. Interesting, but I think you’re doing well at a word a minute. I don’t have the pressure of having to turn out volumes. Being retired, I just do what I can do. It’s unfortunate that everything has to be driven by money, but that’s how our society is set up. Not healthy at any level.

    By the way, Downith’s link to her website doesn’t seem to be working, and viewing her photo requires her permission, which is frustrating.

    Best of luck with your contemporary work!


  2. I spend sometimes 3 to 4 hours going down a research rabbit hole to come up with one detail to bring a scene to life — right now, it’s Gilded Age America, the coal country of Pennsylvania. There’s no way I could do one book a year at that rate. But it’s fun, and my beta readers say they love the detail. Good look with the new book, and The Admiral’s Wife. Anything happening with Acts of Rebellion? I’d still like to see that one out.

  3. Really exciting to step outside what you are used to writing. Can’t wait to read it!

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