And Eragon depressed the heck out of me. Continue reading Thanks, Cristopher Paolini! (Or how Eragon led to Risuko)
I got into a conversation recently about whether historical fiction should be “prohibited” if it wasn’t “accurate.” (The discussion started over swearing in historical novels, but spread out from there.)
As a historical novelist… yeah. No.
I think that, of course, historical fiction should be as true to its time and place as it can be. But writing a story set in another time with 100% accuracy isn’t for historical novels — it’s for textbooks. (And even then, it isn’t possible, since so much of history remains up for debate.)
In fact, writing fully accurate historical fiction isn’t always possible. Or even advisable. So I’m glad there aren’t any HistFic cops out there to beat down my door.
There’s a lot that’s almost impossible to find out about life in former times. Dates, names, and outcomes of big battles, marriages, deaths — the important, history-making events of the ruling classes — are easy to learn. What people in a particular part of rural Japan would have had for breakfast in May, 1571? Not so easy.
And even those battles and things don’t always cooperate to allow you to tell the best possible story.
In Bright Eyes, my latest Seasons of the Sword novel, one of the historical characters had changed his name by the time in which the book is set. But if I used the correct name, it was going to be too much like that of another historical character, and I was worried that similarity would confuse readers. Also, the new name was a very famous one — and I didn’t want to give away what happened to him later to the historically literate. (Mind, if they’re real Japanese history buffs, they already know. But why make it easy, right? 😉)
Historical fiction isn’t pretending to be historical fact. It’s just doing it’s best to weave a consistent tale within a long-ago setting. Like fantasy or science fiction, it’s trying to tell a good story — only someone’s already done the world building.
In response to a recent post about Ursula K. Le Guin, I was challenged on some of what I’d had to say about George R.R. Martin’s writing — specifically, I was told that Martin’s gritty, brutal fantasy was somehow more realistic than Le Guin’s.
Well, to each their own. If you love A Song of Ice and Fire, then great.
I don’t love the series, though I can see the books’ virtues and appeal. But I object to the idea that gritty somehow equals realistic.
When I started reading Game of Thrones, my youngest was seven years old. I got about seventy pages in when (spoiler)… Continue reading Is “Gritty” Realistic?
Here’s the story of how I crushed a character mutiny and finished a book.
Back when Risuko first came out, I was hard at work on the sequel, Bright Eyes. I was cruising along, with every expectation that I’d have the book ready for publication in 2018.
I was about to kill her off (spectacularly, I thought) in order to move the plot forward. As I began to write the scene, however, I realized that I hadn’t set up the death or the character well.
In my mind, she sat there, yelling at me, telling me the scene sucked. And the way I had written her character sucked. And because they sucked, the whole book to that point sucked. Massively.
She wasn’t very polite about it.
I realized, to my horror, that she was right. Continue reading Character Mutiny, Pt. II — The Author Strikes Back
Can a man write from a woman’s point of view?
Gosh, I sure hope so! I am, after all, currently writing a series of books from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old girl.
Now, she’s also Japanese, living in Japan.
In the sixteenth century.
I’m an American man living in twenty-first-century California.Continue reading Writing from another point of view
As an author of young adult books, I’ve been asked many times about the authors who had the greatest impact on me. I’ll often start by mentioning Maurice Sendak, which people assume is a joke, but isn’t.
Next, I’ll mention Ursula K. Le Guin, the late author of science fiction and fantasy.Continue reading Ursula K Le Guin — Grandmaster
I’ve written nearly sixty-eight thousand words of Bright Eyes, the sequel to Risuko.
The most satisfying word of all to write? Continue reading Bright Eyes Complete!
Last summer, I had a really interesting conversation with Scott Calhoun of the Inner Typewriter about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey® and how authors can use it to enrich and focus their writing:
Among other things, I look at Risuko, and how my work on it reflects the Hero Journey.
The Hero’s Journey is a registered trademark of Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF.org)
I owe you an apology.
I had promised — and confidently expected — to finish and release Bright Eyes, book #2 in the Seasons of the Sword series, in 2018.
In a recent interview with book blog A Cup Full of Tea and an Armload of Books, Risuko author David Kudler talks writing, publishing, inspiration, writing history as fantasy, and much more. Continue reading Interview: David Kudler Talks Risuko