Dr Jesse Blackadder is fascinated by adventurous women in history and forgotten and hidden stories. She has written six novels for adults and children, including two major works of historical fiction published by HarperCollins. Her novels use history as their leaping-off point, entwining fact and fiction into compelling stories. She is the winner of the 2011 Antarctic Arts Fellowship and the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Historical Fiction.
What sparked your interest in historical fiction?
Real-life stories spark my imagination, so history is my leaping-off point, where I can entwine fact and fiction. The real-life story of my Scottish ancestors (the Blackadders) and their lost castle inspired me to write The Raven’s Heart – the story of a young woman’s quest to regain her family’s honour.
You’ve spent time in Antarctica to research your novel Chasing the Light. Does a writer need to visit a location to write about it?
Why miss out on the best part? Travelling to Antarctica was a brilliant adventure and I can’t imagine how the book would have felt authentic otherwise. Much research is needed for historical fiction, but for me it includes the amorphous, indefinable experience of being in a certain place.
Which historical figure are you most fascinated by, and would you consider writing about him/her?
Often I stumble across fascinating figures in the course of other research. I’d love to research more about a Japanese poet who wrote odes to netted fish and orphaned whales and committed suicide at a young age. She fascinates me.
Join Jesse for an in-depth exploration of the genre at her upcoming workshop, Going Down In History: Writing Historical Fiction. Sunday 26 June, 10am-4pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.