Sometimes I have quite bruising conversations about historical fiction - of the kind I write. In other words, not the Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel type, which take real people like Anne Boleyn, puts words into their mouths, and tries to work out how the past would have been for them - and how their relationships would have evolved, and how, in many cases, they meet their downfall.
My type of historical fiction takes real events, such as The French Revolution, and tells a fictional story about fictional characters, but with an authentic (whatever that means) historical setting. But do not dismiss. One type of historical fiction is neither more nor less valuable and fun than the other. What is fiction set in the present but historical fiction of the type I write? Take Ian McEwan or Alan Hollinghurst - they write fictional characters against an authentic setting - it might be yesterday, it might be last week or a decade or a century ago. The point is that the reader must be convinced by the world of the character - so if Anne Boleyn speaks convincingly, and moves through her worlds convincingly, the book will work. And if one of my fictional characters takes part in the Battle of Balaklava, provided the reader is convinced by that character and his or her responses, and by the battle, then I have succeeded. But I would argue that in some ways this type of historical fiction is in fact more exciting and possibly more historically fascinating, because the characters grow from the historical landscape against which they are written; they are not picked out of the history books..