Elaine Forrestal

Orphans in time

For Elaine Forrestal (Ancaius 25) Jason and his Argonauts were early examples of courage, determination and individual spirit

I love writing historical fiction. It is, at the moment, my favourite genre. I am fascinated by characters from the past, particularly our West Australian characters, many of whom made significant contributions to our present lifestyle and yet, just a few years ago, very few people had heard of them.

Black Jack Anderson, Rose de Freycinet and Clara Saunders lived in different eras, but were all prepared to push out beyond the reach of their own civilisation and expand our knowledge of what was out there. In writing their stories I want to celebrate their courage, their perseverance, their indomitable spirit and in Clara’s case, her sense of humour. To do this I must immerse myself in the everyday life and culture of their time. I am conscious that I need to inhabit the distant past in a way that brings it to life for a modern audience, without losing touch with what is unique and authentic. I must be careful not to compromise their personalities for the sake of political correctness or turn them into orphans in time, isolated from their own reality. Even worse, turn them into puppets with voices that simply become a mouthpiece for contemporary issues. Each character must be allowed to  live their own life on the page as a real, flesh and blood person.

It’s not easy. But I believe it can be done.