I am excited to announce I have taken up an invitation from Simon J. Cook to write an essay we have titled Voices from the Twelfth-Century Steppe, for publication at Rounded Globe.
I hope to make a case study on writing historical fiction from a source. I hope to introduce you to the intimacies of that source.
In my early years with Amgalant, I turned for companionship to T.H. White, in communion with his Malory: talking to Malory, inserting Malory passages in his novel, living with the original writer and his work. I was living with my original, in much the same way. Besides, there is no book dearer to me than The Once and Future King— through which I discovered the Source. Straight after the Once and Future, while I was still quite young, I went to Malory – taught to do so by T.H. – and not in a bastardised modernisation, whose mother was a hamster, but the OUP, with original spellings, where knights garnysshe themselves for battle (often with a sprig of oregano). If there’s been a more important event in my life, I don’t know what it is. When I came to write historical fiction, to be so devoted to my source, I owe to the imprisoned knight and his modern counterpart who prayed for him.
My mission, which I have chosen to accept, has been assigned me in the book description:
Voices from the Twelfth-Century Steppe by Bryn Hammond
Bryn Hammond has written some astonishingly good historical novels. Her ‘Amgalant’ series brings to life the twelfth-century Steppe as no scholarly history could hope to do. Yet Hammond has immersed herself in her sources; her books are born of painstaking research and breathe a discipline of imagination rarely encountered in historical fiction.
In this scholarly meditation, a digression from her usual writing, Hammond reflects upon the relationship of her own craft to that of the academic historian. Focusing her discussion around The Secret History, the primary Mongolian source for the history of Genghis Khan, composed in the thirteenth century, Hammond asks what it means to discern different voices in what is essentially a communal history constructed from an oral account. What does the novelist as creative writer bring to this text? What might she hear that eludes the careful ears of the academic historian?
eta: Dec 15, 2015
In the meantime, have a look at Rounded Globe, its aims and offerings. Simon J. Cook left employment in an institution (I mean a university, not a madhouse) to pursue independent scholarship. With my commitment to independent publishing – in essence, to be free from anti-creative pressures – I am in sympathy with this; as I am with his idea of accessible scholarship. Out now is Simon’s book, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lost English Mythology, with other titles due through the year.