Laura Beatty is a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Her first book was a biography of Lillie Langtry. Her second, which was written for children, was a biography of Anne Boleyn, The Queen Who Lost Her Head, which tried to move into something more lively, something closer to story, while remaining true to its source material. This meant mixing quotation from primary sources with reported speech, so as to have as much dialogue as possible without falsifying or inventing. The voices in the Anne Boleyn biography made the text immediate, as though they had got there without an author. This led to a novel, Pollard, about a runaway in a wood, in which the wood has its own non-human voice. Pollard won the Authors’ Club first novel award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje prize. After this came another novel, Darkling, a plaiting of two voices, one fictional, one historical, for which an archive of letters and notebooks was used verbatim. This was meant to be a halfway house between fiction and nonfiction, something like a documentary novel; a novel which uses documents.
Beatty is interested in the no-man’s land between established genres. She is currently working on something that combines travel, history and fiction. She has written journalism, short stories, an introduction to H. E. Bates’ Through the Woods and for radio, and she has taught as a creative writing mentor at Falmouth. She is currently training as a child therapist.