The balance between fact and fiction can be a tricky one for a historical novelist. Playing fast and loose with the facts can leave a writer open to accusations of inauthenticity. Yet, if there is anything I have learned from studying history, it’s that it is not static, it is open to interpretation, and what is known about a historical subject can and does change.
I see my role as a historical novelist as consisting of two main components: creating an accurate framework first, drawing on the known facts, and then fill in the gaps with historical imagination. It’s important to me that the setting is authentic—not just because I value historical truth, but also because it creates a vivid world through which my characters move. Historical research is one of my favorite things about being a writer, but I also try to remember that a novel is fiction—it should entertain first, as well as inspire and inform.