Elaine Forrestal

Why History?

A significant event in the life of one woman, Rose de Freycinet, but once recorded it will last forever

In a recent interview I was asked, ‘Why should we study History?’. Although my answer was brief and probably adequate in the circumstances, the question has been hovering at the back of my mind all week. Then, going over some research today, I realised that knowing about it makes me feel that I’m actually part of history, part of something much bigger than me.

In some ways we can be trapped it. There are parts of our personal history that we can never escape, much as were would like to sometimes. On the other hand we can draw great strength and consolation from studying the history of the world and trying to tease out the secrets of its survival against almost impossible odds. Of course there will always be pessimists among us who throw up their hands, in difficult times, and declare that ‘the end of the world is nigh!’ However, I’m an optimist, and a determined one at that. I look at the vast numbers of people who have lived before us in some of the most extreme circumstances imaginable. Without studying history we would not know about their bravery, their determination and the sacrifices they made for their families and their survival.

In life there are many things that come and go. Sometimes it feels as if they come and go at a faster and faster pace. But the great strength of history lies in the fact that it is here to stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurbs and Boobooks

The wise old owl who lives in our garden

At the moment we are grappling with the problem of how to give potential readers of Goldfields Girl a taste for this book, which has been written for all ages from Middle Primary up. ‘In two or three sentences? An impossible task,’ my wise old friend Boobook tells me from his favourite branch in our lilli-pilli tree. But then what would he know? He’s never read a book in his life. He does, however, have many stories to tell if only we could speak his language. Suddenly I realise that the crux of this matter is how we use our own language. When the size allowed for the blurb on the back of a book is so small, how are we ever to choose the right words for everyone?

I guess what I want the blurb to say is that I have written this book for me, and learned a lot about myself along the way. But then that’s what has happened with all of my books and it’s not what the browser in catalogues, bookshops and libraries wants to know. Really their question is ‘Will I like this book?’ And maybe the blurb should say, ‘This is a book for everyone who has ever wanted to go off on an adventure into the unknown. A journey that will test courage, endurance, survival skills and emotional resilience. A story of life and death in the wild, unforgiving landscape of the Western Desert in the 1890s when life for everyone was equally hard and a sense of humour was a precious gift.

Also that writing blurbs is never easy.

 

Fiction Contains History

Other historical fiction titles by Elaine Forrestal

Inevitably, when people read my new historical fiction, Goldfields Girl, they will ask me ‘how much of this story is fact and how much is fiction?’. Previous experience of presenting talks and workshops about my other historical novels, Black Jack Anderson and To See the World, has taught me that, no matter what I say, they will not be completely satisfied. Like that other perennial question, ‘Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?’, there is no answer. At least there is no definitive answer, which is what the questioner really wants. Today I was reminded of how contemporary author, Ben Learner, deals with the first of these grass-seed-in-the-sock questions that plague writers everywhere.

A novel, like a poem, is neither fiction or non-fiction, but a flickering between them.’ (Ben Learner) And how DH Lawrence consistently warned us, ‘Never trust the teller, trust the tale.’

In other words don’t simply accept or reject what you read from a single source. If my story intrigues you and throws up questions, dig deeper. Enter into the lives of the characters through the tale I have to tell, but don’t stop there. If I have sparked your curiosity and made you think more deeply, then I have done my job well.

Happy reading

Fiction Contains History

Inevitably, when people read my new historical fiction, Goldfields Girl, they will ask me, ‘How much of this story is fact and how much is fiction?’. My experiences of presenting talks and workshops about my other historical novels, Black Jack Anderson and To See the World, have taught me that no matte what I say they will not be completely satisfied. Like that other perennial question, ‘Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?’, there is no answer. At least there is no single definitive answer, which is what they really want. today I was reminded of how contemporary author, Ben Learner, dealt with this grass-seed-in-the-sock question that plagues writers everywhere.

A novel, like a poem, is neither fiction or non-fiction, but a flickering between them.’ (Ben Learner) And how DH Lawrence consistently warned us, ‘Never trust the teller, trust the tale.’.

In other words don’t simply accept or reject what you read from a single source. If my story intrigues you and throws up questions, dig deeper. Enter into the lives of the characters through the tale I have to tell, but don’t stop there. If I have sparked your curiosity and made you think more deeply about the mysteries of the past, then I have done my job well.

Happy reading

Fiction Contains History

Inevitably, when people read my new historical fiction, Goldfields Girl, they will ask me, ‘How much of this story is fact and how much is fiction?’. Experience at presenting talks and workshops about my other historical novels, Black Jack Anderson and To See the World, has taught me to expect this. Those previous experiences have also taught me that, no matter what I say, that questioner will not be completely satisfied. Like the other perennial question, ‘Out of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?’, there is no answer. At least no single definitive answer; which is what these people really want. Today I was reminded of how contemporary writer, Ben Learner, deals with the first of these grass-seed-in-the-sock questions that plague writers everywhere.

A novel, like a poem, is neither fiction or non-fiction, but a flickering between them.’ (Ben Learner) And how DH Lawrence warned us consistently to ‘Never trust the teller, trust the tale.’

In other words don’t simply accept what you read from a single source. If my story intrigues you and throws up questions, dig deeper. Enter into the lives of the characters through the tale I have to tell, but don’t stop there. If I have sparked your curiosity and made you think more deeply about  the world and its mysteries, then I have done my job well.

Happy reading.