John Pilkington shares several tales of serendipity, showing how luck has played a part in his literary life.
As a writer of historical fiction, John Pilkington has returned again and again to the diaries of Samuel Pepys, which he admires as much for their ‘warts-and-all’ honesty, as for the details they offer of seventeenth-century life.
A lifelong fascination with history has shaped John Pilkington’s career as a novelist — as well as offering insights into vanished eras, he argues, writing about the past can be a way of understanding the present.
Why do some writers choose to use a name other than the one they were born with for their writing? John Pilkington looks at some of the reasons why authors throughout history have adopted pseudonyms, and wonders if it has something to do with the need to reinvent oneself.
Since Shakespeare delighted Elizabeth I by giving Sir John Falstaff his own play, characters from stories have often had afterlives — existences outside the works that gave birth to them. John Pilkington argues that appropriating a character, and turning him or her into someone new, is very different from writing a mere sequel.
400 years before Burgess, Philby and Maclean, spies recruited from Cambridge were employed as 'intelligencers' to smoke out Jesuit priests inveigling for a return to Catholicism in Elizabethan England — John Pilkington's fictional hero Marbeck among them. But in delving into this brutal age of faith and torture, Pilkington's admiration for the Jesuits grew, leading him to question the very nature of belief.