About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jenny Blackford interview

Jenny's interview for ASif. Sample:

While you’re known for your short stories in the speculative fiction genre, your first novel is a historical one (The Priestess and the Slave, Hadley Rille Books, 2009). How did that come about, and what are the different challenges in writing the different genres?

Ever since I can remember, I've loved the ancient world – from Palaeolithic through to Classical. My degree was in Classics, back when that meant four years of intensive Greek and Latin, as well as history and literature. (My honours subjects included Greek and Latin Epigraphy, Palaeography and Comparative Religion, and my unfinished PhD was titled "The Tripartite Godhead in Indo-European Religion".)

So – when Eric Reynolds, of Hadley Rille Books, put out a call for submissions for an anthology about ruins, the obvious topic for me was the ruins of Delphi as described by 2nd century AD writer Pausanias (who wrote the ancient equivalent of the Lonely Planet Guide to Greece). Eric was impressed, and I was thrilled that the story (my first adult one) got an Honourable Mention from Gardner Dozois. Then, when Eric decided to publish a set of seriously archaeologically-based short historical novels, he asked me to do the Greek one.

The real difference between historical and speculative fiction, at least for me, is the research. I spent months immersing myself in the original sources about 5th century BC Greece, plus a huge range of arcane academic books (including, for example, The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks and Diseases in the Ancient Greek World.) Luckily, I love that stuff. There's nothing in The Priestess and the Slave that's not well-attested in the historical and archaeological sources.

1 comment:

Charles Sullivan said...

I'm always impressed with historical fiction because it really does take a lot of research.

I really liked "Alias, Grace" by Margaret Atwood, set in mid 19th century Canada.

And I also liked "Morality Play" by Barry Unsworth, set in 14th century England.

There are others, but those two come to mind at the moment.