Blog Write Historical Fiction with Iszi Lawrence
Before I was an author I was a History Presenter. I talked to people about everything from Aztecs to Romans, battles to bandages, protests to torture methods, taxis to toilets. I learnt pretty quickly that nothing in my head is as weird, ridiculous, or scary as reality.
At school I learnt that the suffragettes were very sensible, dull women in silly hats protesting the right to vote. Then I found out they actually burnt down buildings, and used jiu jitsu!
I always thought it was only men who flew spitfires in the Second World War. But then I read that women flew them too! The planes were all shot up and leaking oil after battle. Sometimes they would fall apart in the sky!
After watching films I always thought pirates were just make-believe stuff for kids but then I learnt how Blackbeard’s pirate fleet was so terrifying he held up an entire city! He didn’t even do it for treasure, he wanted mercury…
All of these examples caused me to write The Unstoppable Letty Pegg, Billie Swift Takes Flight and Blackbeard’s Treasure. I didn't need to make up names or places because history had already provided them.
There are so many weird and fascinating things in history, like how Caroline Herschell had to knit socks to become an astronomer or how Charles Darwin's main research was on earthworms. I wrote The Time Machine Next Door to include even more strange things for my main characters Alex and Sunil to discover. I just needed to get my characters to the exciting parts on time!
And if you ever get stuck, just pick up a history book and learn something new. Imagine yourself back then. What can you see? Who is there? What do they want you to do? And if it's Blackbeard, my advice is to give him your mercury!
Published: Fri 14th Apr 2023