Author Prue Batten About Historical Writing

 

Today we present to you a in the Richard Armitage fan-community well known fan-fiction creator and very successful published author from Australia with her own blog http://mesmered.wordpress.com:

 

Ms. Prue Batten

Prue Batten

Prue Batten, Author of "A Thousand Glass Flowers"

 

Her works “The Stumpwork Robe“, “The Last Stitch” and “A Thousand Glass Flowers“, soon to be published as print- and e-book, have a great list of followers, as does her story about Guy of Gisborne, one of the film roles Richard Armitage played and gave new depths to.

 

My personal experience with Ms. Batten’s work is, that by now I know not to start reading, when I do not have enough time to finish the full text, as I never can stop. She has the astonishing ability to draw me into her stories within mere sentences and does not let me go again with her artful creation of a wonderful fantasy cosmos.

 

But now enough about me and my experiences with her texts, we will let Ms. Batten speak for herself:

 

Dear Ms. Batten, please tell us a bit about your connection to Medieval History, Richard Armitage and his project “Richard III”.

Firstly, please call me Prue!

My connection is one of an interested observer. Richard Armitage has certainly made no secret of his desire to see Richard III appear as a film or TV series. And his slant on the man is certainly well known. My interest comes from seeing whether the project will eventuate (I hope it does for his sake), how it will be produced (he has mention his desire to at least direct it himself, if not appear in it) and how readers of history and more particularly academia will react to a reversal of the established idea that Richard was the evil king.

We know about your current project “Gisborne” which will be published as print- and e-book in 2012. What fascinates you about this dark and brooding character, who in normal “Robin Hood” films is the dark and clearly evil opponent of brave and heroic Robin Hood?

It’s the age-old story of a man who seeks redemption. He is never so bad that the viewer can’t see a tiny flash of good somewhere. It’s that spark that entices viewers (especially female ones) to hold on and hope. What fascinated me was the way in which the actor showed the dark side and then balanced it with that minute flash of light, not an easy task I’m sure.

Would you see connections or parallels between Guy of Gisborne and King Richard III?

Certainly Richard Armitage seems to believe so… once again this redemptive thing. And Richard III did leave behind a legacy of what can be perceived as good governance.

Do you have an established method to approach historical subjects or do you go as the situation in your story requires it?

There was no doubt that I would need to research the early Middle Ages. Watching a TV series is watching someone-else’s interpretation of something. Costume and dialogue are just two. So to be loyal to the timeframe, it requires a lot of text-reading on my part. Thank heaven for historians.

Do you approach the historical background of your story more from historical events or from information about daily life and living conditions?

Definitely the latter, given that I already had my timeframe. Because I am taking Gisborne away from the legend of Robin Hood, (Robin and Marian have no place in my novel whatsoever) it is important I find out as much information about ‘life’ as possible to give the story veracity.

How do you get into the right mood to write from the perspective of and about historical characters? For us today it is hard to imagine the environment of people living in the Middle Ages, where such a lot of amenities we are used to now, did not exist. Clocks, disinfection, cleanliness and transportation, communication, etc. were wholly different. How do you create the right atmosphere for yourself and in consequence for your readers?

It’s actually not as hard as you think in terms of experiencing things. We have a farm and whilst farming is obviously more developed, there are many things that have stayed the same. If I’m watching a lamb being born, or chipping thistles, it’s not hard to see it from a medieval perspective. Picking a handful of barley and feeling the stalks scratch your hand, sifting headed barley through your fingers. Similarly, you light a fire… maybe not with a tinder, but you smell it, the smoke drifts over your clothes, you feel the heat from the flame. Or when you drink water from a running stream or breathe in foggy air, you say to yourself, I am Ysabel, what am I feeling?

That said, in terms of actual fact, you have to be faithful to the records. But even so, readers are quick to judge and many are learned and some will tell you in no uncertain terms that you got it wrong. That’s hard. Sometimes the Author’s Note in the front of the book can get you out of a scrape.

What would you recommend for other writers to do, to prepare themselves for a historically settled story line?

Everyone is different. But for me it is find the storyline first.

What fires your imagination most to get ideas for your writing. We know Mr. Armitage was an inspiration, but do you in general get your ideas from your environment, from other books you read or by watching people and actors (especially one certain) and trying to create a story around them?

This is an interesting question. With my fantasies, it has always been something inanimate, a piece of embroidery, a paperweight, a special length of fabric, a pocketglobe. But with this first ever historical fiction it was a character as you know. I would never have attempted this if I hadn’t been so unhappy with the outcome for Gisborne in the BBC’s Robin Hood. I discovered fan-fiction and played with it via my blog, but then something happened. I found I was spending more and more time researching, giving the story its own foundation in time. If you have read the bits on the blog, you can actually see that the depth of the rough draft changed as I researched more. It was rather an epiphany, I was morphing into a fledgling historical fiction writer and leaving fandom way behind.

I have to say I will never watch an actor again to give me a character. Twice now I’ve used Richard Armitage’s mad, bad roles to flesh out my characters and I think it’s quite dangerous. Finnian and Gisborne might be considered to have similar traits and it’s not something I wish to continue further. I want my male protagonists to stand on their own individual merits rather than by a connection to a specific actor.

We know you are currently working on “Gisborne”. Are there other projects in the pipeline? Could you let us know when we readers can expect your next publications?

There is potentially a second volume of Gisborne. (2012-13) And I am 70,000 words into a fantasy called The Shifu Cloth which I am keen to return to after Gizzy I is finished. (2012) My fantasies move through the generations so this next is one generation up from Finnian. My stars! I’ll be ancient when I have finished!

Thank you very much for this interview and giving us such deep insights into your work and works in progress.

It’s been an absolute pleasure. One of the things that a writer doesn’t often do is examine his or her own motivation and this has made me think hard about my craft. Great questions and thank you for inviting me.

To learn more about works in progress and the fascinating author Prue Batten, you can follow her on her:

"A Thousand Glass Flowers" by Prue Batten

"A Thousand Glass Flowers" by Prue Batten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prue Batten’s titles are available in different formats at:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

"A Thousand Glass Flowers" by Prue Batten

 

 

 

5 Responses to Author Prue Batten About Historical Writing

  • Maria Grazia says:

    Well done, ladies. Interesting interaction about my favourite Richards and writing historical fiction. I can’t wait to read your Gisborne, Prue. I’m sure it’ll be another intense read, just like the one I’ve just finished, that is yours A Thousand Glass Flowers. I wish you great success. You simply deserve that!
    Then, last but not least, I really would love to see this project of Richard Armitage’s come true. Fingers Crossed!

  • Pingback: Launch pad! « Mesmered's Blog

  • Nikalee says:

    Thanks to my friend Louise from the Richard III Society, I found out about the petition and went to sign it. Lo and behold, here is my friend Prue Batten being interviewed! What a nice surprise! 🙂

    O if only I had the time and inspiration to write again…

    • CDoart says:

      Thank you very much for your support and I am glad we could provide a nice surprise here for you. Thank you for visiting and commenting!
      With writing, it will come in time. I made the experience that writing wants its own right moment and objects to being forced and rushed.
      Please let us know, when you have written something. I am eager to learn more about your writing.

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