I was proud to be part of the archaeological team that excavated Ludlow, the site of the infamous massacre of 1914. This article, although published at the time of the massacre’s centenary, is still well worth a read. The fight for WORKPLACE DIGNITY goes on. I hope my novel A TERRIBLE UNREST paid the necessary respect to these brave miners and their families.


Those Darned Characters

So, here I am thinking I’ve got this novel licked, when all of a sudden, a certain character, whose name shall remain hidden decides SHE wants to go in a different direction. And then another character decides she’s making sense. Who am I to argue? So, of we go!! This is fun .


Most historical fiction uses anachronism (noble exception is Patrick O’Brian), especially the use of modern jargon (Tom Holt’s hilarious books on Ancient Greece are a good example.) Last night I was reading an excellent novel set in Ancient Rome. The author uses lots of modern jargon “he’s nuts; stop faffing about” which I could deal with. But then the author used doolalli to describe someone who was insane. This term comes from the Deolali Barracks in India where nineteenth century British soldiers with mental problems were sent. Where do you draw the line?

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.