Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer's (& Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths [Second Edition] Paperback – 17 Jun 2013
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About the Author
Susanne Alleyn has loved history all her life, aided and abetted by her grandmother, Lillie V. Albrecht, an author of historical children’s books in the 1950s and 60s. Happy to describe herself as an insufferable knowitall about historical trivia (although she lost on Jeopardy!), Susanne has been writing and researching historical fiction for nearly three decades. She is the author of the acclaimed Aristide Ravel French Revolution Mysteries; A Far Better Rest, the reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities; The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France, her latest novel, about Charles Sanson, executioner of Paris, who guillotined Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette; and A Tale of Two Cities: A Reader's Companion, an annotated edition of the classic novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
Oh, and there is very little here about the medieval period either. It concentrates on periods much later, generally closer to the periods in which the author writes. All the sneering smugness here kind of makes you want to plough through Susanne's own fiction works in an attempt to find blunders to expose -- but then that would be childish... wouldn't it?
It is not merely about authenticity anymore; quite a lot of the time the purpose of the inaccuracies she castigates is real and direct, and they are what the writer wishes to achieve- either to bring the past closer to the present by skipping a lot of the difficult bits, or to have a political effect on the now by projecting modern attitudes into the past.
"Who controls the present, controls the past; who controls the past, controls the future." The bad writing Alleyn rails against may often simply be good politics, in the Orwellian sense.
Historical fiction is written to have an effect in the present, and the author's determination to ignore the elephant in the room is correct as fact and language go, but...
What it all comes down to, as Ms. Alleyn explains, is checking your facts and showing respect for your readers. Near enough will not do; nor will assumptions or half-recalled snippets from school. If you don't want to do the research, chose another period to write about. Even famous writers, when they stray outside their usual historical territory, make silly errors.
It's also good to see the editors come in for some stick! I sometimes wonder whether such animals even exist in publishing houses today, given the typos, grammar howlers and half-erased rewrites that make it onto the printed page.
Amusng and useful. Well worth reading. I hope it will help me to check up on things I may not have thought of before. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of writing historic fiction.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Every writer should have this book -its a gem worth every penny and l am only halfway through it well done Susanne!Published 1 month ago by bryan
Susanne Alleyn's book about how not to write historical fiction is a superb combination of information and entertainment. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Monika Simon
Very much enjoyed this - plenty of useful points to alert a historical fiction writer if they were relevant to their work, or just to enjoy if the points don't apply to their time... Read morePublished 4 months ago by P. Dolan
An excellent and well researched guide to a rarely covered topic.Published 4 months ago by G Cheshire
This book is not very good. It is badly structured with the author jumping from medieval period to much later periods, which for me, are irrelevant because I am researching the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Claudia G.
Fantasy tends to the medieval - but it is usually the Hollywood medieval and as a result does not have the strangeness and reality-feel of the actual medieval. Read morePublished 7 months ago by S. McHugh
Very informative, but not quite as funny as I expected, based on the title.Published 11 months ago by Vibeke Appel
Very entertaining and informative. I write only as a hobby - I've no intention of trying to get any of my works published - but I'll still find it useful. Read morePublished 16 months ago by MR PAUL JOHNSON