Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the thirty-sixth, is of Deborah Swift.
Deborah Swift is a historical novelist and poet who spent many years travelling the UK working as a set and costume designer for the theatre and then at BBC television before settling in a small village on the edge of the English Lake District. She has many active hobbies including taiko drumming, tai chi, and tango dancing, all great antidotes to the sedentary writing life. (And yes, she has noticed her hobbies all seem to begin with a ’T')
She enjoys teaching creative writing and mentoring other novelists, and has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She is a member of The Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association.
And now from the author herself:
I started life as a poet and only came to writing historical fiction in the last few years. I wrote a short piece of experimental prose about the lady’s slipper orchid, and the critique group I was working with liked it so much they suggested I should extend it. This initial impulse became chapter one of a novel (now published by Macmillan and St Martin’s Press) and since then I have had to catch up quickly with the genre of historical fiction.
I had never particularly been a historical fiction fan, and read mostly contemporary literary fiction, but I thought I had better start somewhere. I picked Philippa Gregory to begin with and was amazed at how much history seemed to be packed between the pages. I had to learn quickly how to maximise my research time by taking copious notes, by always making time for photographs and by having a handbag big enough to fit the many brochures and photocopies I collected.
The research aspect and the fact that historical fiction is often lengthier than other genres means each book takes me about eighteen months to write. I have found it impossible to carry all the information I need in my head and I carry a lot of notebooks. My system of research is to do a “general recce” of the particular time and settings, followed by a much more in depth research period after writing the first draft. What I love about historical fiction is that the characters’ tensions can often be externalised more in times when a dispute means reaching for a sword. I have a lifelong love of the theatre and film, and this gives potential for a very visible drama. Of course the joy of any novel, and something I love about literary fiction, is the chance to encounter the inner tensions of the characters too, so I hope I have managed to balance the internal and external dilemmas in a way the reader finds engaging.
My next novel The Gilded Lily will be published in 2012, and the third in 2013.
What I am reading now: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, The Courtesan’s Lover by Gabrielle Kimm and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
You can find more about Deborah and her work via… www.deborahswift.blogspot.com, www.deborahswift.co.uk and www.royaltyfreefictionary.blogspot.com. You can buy ‘The Lady’s Slipper’ from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Reviews for Deborah’s novel have included… ‘Top Pick!’ RT Book Reviews – ‘Brilliant saga’ Romance Reviews Today – ‘Riveting narrative’ For the Love of Books – ‘Rich and haunting’ Reading the Past
Morgen: History was my worst subject at school so it was lovely to read about how you fell in love with it, thank you Deborah… and I love your cover.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction author Berney K. Dorton – the one hundred and fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).