Monday’s Friend: Julia Knight
Today I am pleased to welcome Julia Knight as my first guest of 2012. Julia successfully writes in several genres, and she’s here to tell us how she does it.
The Difference Between Genres
By Julia Knight
No, not the difference in what they involve. The difference in writing them.
Usually I’m a fantasy girl through and through. I love the fact I can just make stuff up, and not have to worry about if it actually works that way here, on this planet. But last year, while conversing with my editor about edits for one of my fantasies, she mentioned that she thought I had a good voice for historical, had I thought about writing one? Two days later, I was in Norway and I suppose it was inevitable really. I wrote a book about Vikings. Which meant I had to do something I’ve had little cause to in my fantasies; research. And not ‘research so the laws of physics are obeyed when my pirate fires his flintlock’, or ‘research to find out what happens during hypothermia’. Proper, ‘this is what happened, how these people lived’ research. And I had to make sure that I got my facts right. A daunting prospect, especially given that one of my characters is a good Catholic girl and what I knew about Catholicism could comfortably fit on the head of a pin. Get that wrong and, well, people quite rightly get upset.
Of course, I don’t make it easy on myself. The book is set in the 9th century and there isn’t exactly an extensive written, solid record for the period. There are details, and some very interesting ones, but while there are facts abounding, quite often they, or the experts, are contradictory. Would Vikings and Saxons have understood each other? Enough to have a proper conversation? Depends who you ask. So not only did I have to research, I had to choose which answers I believed. And make sure I didn’t go off on too much link surfing. That was hard — I go to a site just to look up what say the Vikings ate and two hours later I’m reading about units of measurement in the early mediaeval period.
However, I did learn one very important thing — I like research, I learned some surprising things, such as how much freedom the women of that time really had, and it gave, I think, a greater depth to the story to be able to show the clash of cultures between how Saxons lived and worshipped, and how the Norse did.
In fact, I think I might do it again.
You can learn more about Julia Knight, her books and reviews, at http://juliaknight.co.uk, or follow her on twitter @Knight_Julia. THE VIKING’S SACRIFICE is now available as an ebook, from Amazon, and will soon be available as an audio book.