Writing Historical Fiction
During a recent workshop run by the Queensland Writer’s Centre on Writing Historical Fiction, award winning author, Nerida Newton, offered valuable advice and strategies to assist aspiring writers and State Library’s Queensland Authors Librarian, Dr Leanne Day, showcased resources in the John Oxley Library. It was a lively session and Nerida used practical exercises to unlock some mysteries of writing. Plenty of interest was shown in the displayed collection, which included:
- almanacs that told if it was a full moon on that particular night at Roma in 1881 when the murder occurred
- a travel writer’s detailed description of Brisbane when he visited during the 1895 building boom that caused him, ‘at first, a feeling almost of embarrassment, as a guest might experience upon arriving at an entertainment before the preparations were quite completed’.
- the recorded voice of an old digger telling his story of growing up on an outback station and his time in the war
- photographs of early cottage gardens, kitchens and menus
- a Captain’s handwritten entries in his ship’s log book
- descriptions of place and attitudes of authors of period Queensland and Australian fiction
- maps that showed who owned blocks of land and how far they travelled to do their shopping and go to work – illustrated with modes of transport
- newspapers that provided day-to-day action of a particular place in time that novelists could embed their characters in
- examples of how illustrators used visual resources in the collection to illustrate historical picture books
By the end of a fabulous day shy participants were transformed into inspired writers.
Nerida’s two historical novels are held in the John Oxley Library’s collection. The Lambing Flat (2003) won the Emerging Author category for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and was shortlisted for the The Australian/Vogel Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for the Asia/Pacific region (Best First Book) and One Book One Brisbane. Her second novel Death of a Whaler was published in 2006.