Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Bruce Holsinger and Nancy Bilyeau talk about historical fiction
Bruce Holsinger and Nancy Bilyeau, two of the leading medieval novelists, had the chance to meet up in New York City and have a conversation about writing historical fiction, how they went about researching their novels, and what stories and styles influenced their writing.
For example, Bruce says to Nancy "you flesh out those aspects of daily life with remarkable skill, without a lot of hand waving or showing off of historical details. I actually struggled a bit with this at first. I knew the medieval period in terms of its literary history, but in terms of the details of everyday life, that was a brand new learning experience. I had to go back and relearn a lot of what I thought I knew. There are so many passages in the literature that will tell you about, say, the food at a feast, but I never really paid attention to those until I had to figure out what people ate in a scene I was writing."
Nancy replies, "Exactly! I was never happier than when a curator at the Tower of London scanned in a diet sheet of an aristocratic prisoner in the 1540s and sent me a PDF. I had every detail down to how many pigeons eaten a week."
You can read their conversation from The Daily Beast.
Nancy Bilyeau's latest book is called The Chalice - we will have a review about it on Medievalists.net very soon! Bruce Holsinger's novel is called A Burnable Book.