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When researching his historical novels, Andrew Martin always starts with a map drawn around the time in which his story is set, in order to explore at first-hand the world he is trying to envisage. This has led him to some surprising revelations — and occasional near-mishaps.

Laura Hird speaks with Geoff Hattersley about her beginnings as a writer of bleak and gritty short stories, the real reason her first novel was written in four different voices, and how she gave her mother a literary afterlife in ‘Dear Laura’.

As a writer of novels set in the past, Katharine McMahon has come to realise that the preoccupations she addresses in her fiction are also those of the present day, and that the distinction between ‘historical’ and ‘contemporary’ fiction may have outlived its usefulness.
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