When I would tell fellow academics I was writing a historical novel about my period, their eyes would widen and the questions and comments would come, always friendly and supportive, maybe a little wistful:
–Is it hard?
–I could never do that; I don’t have enough imagination.
–How do you find the time?
(Answer: you make the time)
Reading historical fiction as a child (Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy, Georgette Heyer…) was a huge part of why I became interested in history, so the link between historical writing and fiction was there from the beginning. Now my friend David Perry (another medieval historian who pushes his own writing beyond the confines of the academy) has written a thoughtful essay on fiction and scholarship that discusses my novel, Pilgrimage and Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book: