Siobhan Curham has had almost fifty books published over the last 24 years – fiction and non-fiction for adults, young adults and children – but moving into historical fiction four years ago has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her career.

Here she shares four reasons why she loves writing historical fiction – and why you might too!

It can be a great way of connecting with your family history

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the stories my grandparents would tell me about their lives during the Second World War. My grandma lived in London during the Blitz and my grandpa was in the Navy. I decided to use my grandma’s experiences as the starting point for my World War 2 novel, Beyond This Broken Sky, basing it around the house she lived in during the Blitz. Visiting the London street she lived on and seeing signs of bomb damage still evident today was a really powerful moment for me, and even though my grandma died many years ago, all the time I was writing the novel I felt as if she was there with me. It felt very special to be able to weave some of the details from her life into a novel for other people to read.

It’s like time travel

In order to write good fiction, you really need to get beneath the skin of your characters and immerse yourself in their world, so writing historical fiction can feel as if you’ve gone back in time, as you immerse yourself in the details of the period. From the clothes to the food, to the popular phrases of the day, it can be such a great way of coming as close as possible to experiencing history for yourself when you don’t have a time machine at your disposal!

It’s like going on a treasure hunt

I love uncovering lesser-known historical details and working them into my novels, and in this way writing historical fiction feels a little like going on a treasure hunt. I get such a feeling of satisfaction when, having spent hours down an internet rabbit hole, or reading an obscure out of print book, I discover a fascinating fact I’d never heard of before. One of my favorites was reading about the day the London waxwork museum, Madame Tussauds, was bombed by the Germans, and the waxwork of Hitler mysteriously survived, completely unblemished, when the other waxworks around him were melted beyond recognition. My new novel, The Stars Are Our Witness, features a gunpowder plot that took place in Auschwitz, when prisoners managed to blow up one of the crematoriums. I’d never heard about the Resistance movement in Auschwitz before and I was so inspired to discover the stories of their incredible bravery and share them with my readers.

It can be very relevant to today

Another thing I love about historical fiction is how it can make a powerful statement about what’s going on in the world today. It breaks my heart when I see the wars currently raging and the parallels between what’s happening now and what happened previously. Writing historical fiction can be like holding a mirror up to the world, reminding people of what can happen if we don’t pay attention to and learn the lessons of history.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Pin It on Pinterest