Novelist Kate Mosse reveals the secrets of writing
bestselling historical fiction at SIBF 2020
Bestselling author of Labyrinth tells her Sharjah International Book Fair audience about what moves her to write historical fiction
Sharjah, November 8, 2020
“History is often written from a male point of view. What I am interested in as a reader as well as a writer is what it would have been like to be a woman living in those times,” said bestselling English novelist, Kate Mosse, OBE, to a global audience in a session held on the ‘Sharjah Reads’ virtual platform at the ongoing 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair.
Speaking to the playwright Greg Mosse, Kate took her readers back to France’s wars of religion when she shared her research and mapping of characters for her very popular Languedoc trilogy – Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007) and Citadel (2012).
“Though I do research in the libraries and archives, my most inspiring research comes from my feet!” she revealed. “I walk around in a place that inspires me and dream about the book for months. I create the architecture of the novel in my mind while walking. It is like building a house. I try to imagine what the place looked like in the 16th and 17th century.”
After months of walking, dreaming, and imagining, the story starts to take shape. “As soon as I am confident about the setting, place and the type of story I want to tell, I start writing and hope for the characters to join me,” said Kate. “I often discover ideas for my story by coincidence. When I went to the Amsterdam Museum, I saw the engraving above the door of the museum onto Kalverstraat and learnt the building used to be the city orphanage. Then I started to create a story in which Huguenot children who had fled France might also have found shelter there in the 16th century.”
Speaking about how her characters come into being and how she makes them real, Kate further noted: “Though I work hard to research the dates and facts from history books and the archives, the characters only come alive when I start to imagine them living their lives, wearing clothes of the time, eating the food of the time, and so on. Characters must be placed in their time by historical research as well and with attitudes appropriate to their era.”
The novelist who also ventures into non-fiction and short story writing, and is a successful broadcaster, is very clear about what to focus on in her work. Though her historical fiction incorporates crime, adventure, mystery, conflict and romance in equal measures, she is concerned most about, “the natural built landscapes, and the particular place of women in that setting.”
Mosse’s new novel City of Tears, the sequel to the bestselling The Burning Chambers, will be published in January 2021.
- Image during the session
- Kate Mosse