I'm so happy to have author and Historical Novel Society Conference panelist, Jodi Daynard on my blog today for a Q&A. I really enjoyed all of her answers, especially the one about her research and writing process!
She is participating in a panel called THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE at the conference in a few weeks!
There's still time to register for the conference, which takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida June 21-23. Visit http://hns-conference.org/.
What got you first interested in historical fiction?
Having written many contemporary stories and essays, I never imagined I would begin writing historical fiction. But a few years ago, I began to get obsessed with John and Abigail Adams, the American Revolution, and the roles of women during this time period. Now I’m mid-way through a trilogy of novels set during this time period!
Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?
I have a strange system of rewards: I don’t allow myself to think much about the characters or the story before I do my research. I study many aspects of my setting and write down every important social, economic, political, and geographical (weather, diseases, etc.) fact I can find on monthly calendar pages. I don’t allow myself to think about the “fun” stuff until I’m finished with most of the research and have an almost daily awareness of the “real world” of the time. By then, miraculously, my subconscious has “written” much of the storyline! It is at this point that I reward myself by creating a general outline of the plot.
For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?
My characters must absolutely live within their detailed factual world. I make them do this for the sake of accuracy, but also for personal reasons: facts and the limitations of the “real” world constantly inspire me. My characters develop because they are reacting to so many things in their world.
What are your favorite reads? Favorite movies? Dominating influences?
I have seen the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice twenty times! I have read Jane Eyre many times. I have wanted to be like many different kinds of writers over the years—Tolstoy (!), Nabokov (!), James Joyce (!). But I finally figured out that I'm really just an old-fashioned storyteller in the vein of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters.
To learn more about Jodi's books and upcoming appearances visit www.jodidaynard.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jodi Daynard is a writer of fiction, essays, and criticism. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice, The Paris Review, Agni, New England Review and in several anthologies. She is the author of The Place Within: Portraits of the American Landscape by 20 Contemporary Writers (W. W. Norton). Ms. Daynard’s essays have been nominated for several prizes and mentioned in Best American Essays. She has taught writing at Harvard University, M.I.T., and in the MFA program at Emerson College, and served for seven years as Fiction Editor at Boston Review. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The National Women’s Book Association, and the Author’s Guild. The Midwife’s Revolt is her first novel.