I’m happy to announce I’ve finished all the edits and pre-production checks on my next novel “A Fox in Shadow”, which will be out in June.
This book counts as fantasy, although it’s a little different to my previous stories. There’s no magic, non-humans, mythical beings, etc. It could almost count as alternate history, if I could point to a time and location on earth where the story could have taken place. And, as I’m sure most readers will spot, at heart it’s inspired by the Roman conquest of Britain, although it plays out in a different direction to what some readers might expect.
As I say in my biography, from the age of six, my resolute ambition was to be an archaeologist when I grew up – an ambition I failed to achieve. But I’m still a history geek, and I know not to blindly accept historic accounts as reliable, even when written close to the time. The modern term, “fake news” is thrown around far too carelessly. However, it is undeniable that even where stories are not completely made up, news outlets put their own spin on their reports – if by no more than picking which bits they are going to highlight, and which bits they’ll leave out.
While it might be easy to spot spin in news reports today, especially if it isn’t in the direction that accords with your own vision (an inverse echo chamber effect) it’s much harder with old records. The worldview and motives of the writers are far harder to unpick. How unbiased are they in selecting their “facts”? And this is before you allow for how little writing survives to back up well known historic stories. The (nearly) contemporary accounts of Boudica amount to little more than a couple of paragraphs from a writer with a definite anti-empire narrative he wanted to push.
It’s also too easy to project a 21th century worldview onto the past, with the result that, although it might produce an accurate idea of what happened, the why is subject to pitfalls, and how people saw it at the time gets completely lost.
Taken altogether, it leaves a lot of space for a fiction writer to play around in.