Event report

Conference 2009: Jean Fuillerton: ‘The devil is in the detail’

Report published 19 July 2009

Event took place on 19 July 2009 - read event entry »

Jean Fullerton

Jean Fullerton

In this informative and entertaining talk, Jean looked at that knotty problem for historical novelists: how do you convey an accurate feeling of time and place without swamping your readers with ‘information dumps’?

Jean’s research includes written primary and secondary source material, old maps, images, local history archives and census returns. But what do you do with it all? Yes, your readers want to be transported to another time and place but they don’t want to be drowned in the detail, fascinating though it may be. For example, her research into early stethoscopes (cow’s horn!) for her doctor hero in No Cure for Love, resulted in a mere line or so in the book.

She also discussed how to get across the mind set of another age. A working man in the 19th century, for example, would aspire to being called Mr Smith rather than just Fred. The importance of religion is another pitfall area; in the nineteenth century, it was central to society. All that has changed and historical novelists must take that on board.

What impressed me was, not only the depth of Jean’s research, but her enthusiasm for the subject. We all thoroughly enjoyed her talk.

Report by Rachel Summerson

It's a fact

Sending a romantic text is the third most commonly used chat-up technique among under 35s.