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Showing posts from March, 2016

Counterfactual histories and historical fantasies

I came across a long-read in New Statesman today about The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I haven’t actually read the book – or watched the series based on it – but the article brought up an issue that interests me both as a writer and a reader: counterfactual histories, the genre of ’what ifs’. What if an event in the past had happened differently? It also reminded me that the past, real and imagined, lends itself well for all kinds of fiction.

I don’t read much historical fiction anymore – or watch historical movies, for that matter – even though I’m a historian by education. Even the best historical fiction tends to pale in comparison with the historical reality, and the incorrect historical facts and details tend to mar my enjoyment of a good story. The exception I make is for historical romances. I don’t care that most of them not only get the details wrong but the spirit of the era they portray too; I simply enjoy the romance.
And I know I shouldn’t be too judgementa…

6 writing lessons taken from the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series

I’ve been reading Dead Ice, the latest Anita Blake novel by Laurell K. Hamilton. And by reading I mean skimming the pages, hoping to land on some plot. Of over 560 pages and 65 chapters, the plot it’s supposed to be about – illegal zombie porn – has so far taken approximately four chapters, and they are not very exciting chapters. Nothing about the book is very exciting – a far cry from what the series was originally about.

For those not familiar with the series, Anita Blake is a vampire hunter and animator, a raiser of zombies, in St. Louis, Missouri. She’s a tough as nails heroine with a supernatural ability of her own, which sets her apart from the society and has made her rather confrontational. The first book, Guilty Pleasures, was published in 1993 and Dead Ice, published in 2015, is the 24th book in the series. When the first book came out, there were no urban fantasy series like Anita Blake; it felt exciting and invigorating. The first twelve or so books were about solving pret…