Phil Duke’s Blog

Hi, this is my first blog about writing historical fiction. I love the genre. As a kid I devoured every Hornblower book I could get from the library. Now, I’m a big fan of Patrick O’Brian, Bernard Cornwell, Caleb Carr and Jeff Shaara; the list is endless!

I’ve written two of my own historical fiction novels (A Terrible Unrest and The Village), and I guess the biggest challenge I’ve encountered – like everybody – is where to draw the line between historical fact and fiction. Sure, I can’t make blatant mistakes(too much) like changing dates or locations, although in both of my novels I’ve telescoped certain events and invented specific locations to help the story’s  trajectory.  I check all my facts very carefully, but would a reader really care if, for example, the novel included, say, a plant or animal that wasn’t native at the time? Even the great Bernard Cornwell once wrote that you’re going to get some things wrong and you will always have a reader more than willing to let you know!

I fall back ultimately on the fact that I’m not writing a historical tome. The primary goal of my novels is to entertain the reader and hope that any inaccuracies aren’t too egregious.

I would love to hear from you. So, please, give me your thoughts and let’s get a conversation going. Thanks.

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