Excellent, excellent article in The Guardian by Hilary Mantel on "dealing with history in fiction." Practically every sentence is worth quoting. Here are some of my favorites:
"A relation of past events brings you up against events and mentalities that, should you choose to describe them, would bring you to the borders of what your readers could bear. The danger you have to negotiate is not the dimpled coyness of the past – it is its obscenity."
"To try to engage with the present without engaging with the past is to live like a dog or cat rather than a human being; it is to bob along on the waters of egotism, solipsism and ignorance."
"History is always changing behind us, and the past changes a little every time we retell it."
"A novel arrives whether you want it or not. After months or years of silent travel by night, it squats like an illegal immigrant at Calais, glowering and plotting, thinking of a thousand ways to gain a foothold. It's useless to try to keep it out. It's smarter than you are. It's upon you before you've seen its face, and has set up in business and bought a house."
I write historical fiction set in sixteenth century France. An avid reader who fell in love with all things French as a teen, I went on to earn a Ph.D in French literature from Princeton. My stories grow from my research and my desire to make Renaissance Europe come alive for modern readers. Explore my blog and immerse yourself in this fascinating era!