This week's featured conference speaker is Suzy Witten, author of The Afflicted Girls.
What got you first interested in historical fiction?
Classic literature. Historical fiction is a modern expression of rich classical storytelling.
How do you find the people and topics of your books?
Finding subject matter has always happened by coincidence for me – a serendipitous crossing of paths with an intriguing topic or unsolved controversy that I instantly saw a new pathway to explore. Finding the time to do it, though, is the issue.
Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?
No. I let intuition and logic guide me. I also try to make a little progress every day.
For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?
I think I’ll name it “The Blur.” My view is that most of what happened in the past was unwritten, therefore history at best is blurry. After assembling written facts to use as a framework, intuition can siphon in from the ethers the unwritten parts of history needed to really decorate the cake.
Writer beware when asking for reviews. I learned through one painful mistake that if you have controversial material, you can never know what worm you’ve just invited to your party, whose mission might be to wreck you.
Where do you feel historical fiction is headed as a genre?
Well, it’s clearly evolving and expanding... and blurring genre lines.
Is there an era/area that is your favorite to write about? How about to read?
For writing, no favorites. For reading, I can be drawn in by a protagonist, story, inventiveness,
What are your favorite reads?
I like complex stories with well-developed characters, that are not told in first person.
Favorite movies? Dominating influences?
Some powerful movies that have touched me: “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” “Black Orpheus,” “Impromptu,” “Whale Rider,” “Camilla,” “Breaking The Waves...” even “Slumdog Millionaire...” and the list goes on. My background is in filmmaking.
Is there a writer, living or deceased, you would like to meet?
I have a cousin who’s a famous novelist. He was the writer I had wanted to meet, and did... E. L. Doctorow.
What book was the most fun for you to write?
The one I’m writing now has been fun. Writing “The Afflicted Girls” wasn’t fun. It was compelling really challenging, and satisfying, but definitely not fun..
Can you tell us about your latest publication?
I’ll soon be publishing my first Young Adult novel, entitled “10/10ths,” which is a coming-of-age/healing-of-family teen adventure set in the colorful world of vintage car rally racing in Mexico. It’s not your typical story, though.
Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share?
I wrote an award-winning novel about the 1692 Salem Witch Hunt... and while I might have been a witch in a former life (which I don’t remember), I am not currently a witch this go round. But I do experience tons of grace and magic.