Historical Fiction and The Perverse Pleasure of Research

With the release in 2010 of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet author David Mitchell wrote an article for The Telegraph on writing and researching historical fiction.

I just revisited his essay as I was in dire need of some Internet empathy. I'm body under in research, barely keeping my nose above the waterline of information. Problem is, I love the swim.

He asks the important questions: Do you stay faithful to the facts or invent credible characters and stories that don’t bore the reader to death? Should you stick with the knowable present or plunge into the maddening research required to evoke a past time and place?

What I love most, though, is the encouragement.

"Why, then, the enduring popularity of historical fiction? One reason is that it delivers a stereo narrative: from one speaker comes the treble of the novel’s own plot while the other speaker plays the bass of history’s plot." - David Mitchell