For the love of history

by Susie Murphy

I am an Irish historical fiction writer. Why historical fiction? Because I often wish I’d been born two hundred years ago. There’s just something about the past that dazzles me – maybe it’s the magnificence of a long, elaborate gown, the sweet romance of a chivalrous courtship, the charm of a 19th century house, the slower pace of life…

But I suppose there was also the lack of hygiene. And women had very little in the way of rights. And corsets made it hard to breathe. And life expectancy wasn’t great. And that’s to say nothing of what it was like to be lower class…

Okay, maybe the 21st century isn’t so bad after all. We do have women’s suffrage, electric showers and pizza. But it’s still nice to escape every now and then, isn’t it?

Image via Pixabay

When I’m not disappearing into the past, I teach piano to kids of all ages (and a couple of adults too). I get to teach all sorts of beautiful pieces by Debussy, Mendelssohn and Chopin, but invariably it’s Mary Had a Little Lamb that gets stuck in my head. I love going to musicals and can recite all the colours of Joseph’s amazing technicolour dreamcoat at top speed in one breath.

I started writing because it was an itch I had to scratch – and then it turned out that the more I scratched, the more it itched. My historical fiction series A Matter of Class was supposed to be just one book. Then three. Now six. I’m sure it’ll end eventually.

To be very honest, I started blogging simply because I was told I had to maintain an online presence to have a decent chance of selling a book – and then I discovered that it was lots of fun and that there were loads of lovely people out there to meet. I used to struggle to put together a single blog post per month or to muster the courage to comment on someone else’s blog. Now I have a long list of blog post ideas and…okay, I still have to muster the courage to comment but it’s easier than it used to be!

Image via Pixabay

And now for my animal-related stories. I have to admit that I’ve never owned a pet in my life, although if I ever did get one I think I’d get a rabbit. I tend to have a great affinity for animals that have featured in books I’ve read and Watership Down by Richard Adams was my absolute favourite as a child. So much so that my very first ‘novel’ at age eleven, The Rabbits’ Journey, was an eleven-page-long unashamed plagiarism of Watership Down.

This affinity has also led to a fondness for foxes (Tom McCaughren’s Run With the Wind series) and, um, mice and rats (Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien – I often feel that the poor creatures are just misunderstood).

My real-life encounters with cats have been sporadic. When I tried to pick up a friend’s cat as a child, it scratched me and I had to get a tetanus injection. My mam once fed a stray cat for a week and then it vanished and never came back, but a picture of that cat still hangs in a frame on the kitchen wall, fifteen years later. Nowadays, my neighbours’ two cats tend to stalk around my garden like it’s their own place; I pretend that I let them but they know they can do whatever they want.

Susie Murphy is a historical fiction writer from Ireland. She is currently working on her six-part series, A Matter of Class. The first instalment, A Class Apart, is set in rural Ireland in 1828 and is due for publication in summer 2018. In the course of her research for this series, Susie has found herself exploring a wide range of obscure subjects, from the history of pockets to 19th cneture door handles (she is nothing if not thorough). She has an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and a postgraduate degree in Music Education. You can find Susie on her blog and over at Twitter and Facebook.


21 thoughts

  1. I love historical fiction – when I was younger it was the first sort of “grown up” books that I started reading, round about 11. First it was Jean Plaidy, then Elizabeth Chadwick, then Phillipa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon etc. The list goes on. There’s something rather wonderful about the escapism that a historical novel creates. I did my UG and PG degrees in history, so it’s very easy for me to pick apart the inaccuracies and mistakes in various historical novels, but then I realised – that’s not the point! They’re not supposed to be a word-for-word account; we have historians and contemporary documentation for that!

    Although don’t get me started on people who… thanks to various novels/TV shows… believe that the Princes in the Tower escaped/were really Lambert Simnel. One thing I will not accept as “fantasy”!

    Excited to see where your books take you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to come across your blog. I also blog about history, human interest stories, docu-style narratives, music, travel adventures… and, well, the whole gamut of stuff to write about, but my true love is that of history. I often dig for historical context with every person I meet and every place I visit. I look forward to reading your stories.

    Best to you, Jess ||

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having a great-grandmother who came from County Tyrone, but being unable to find anything on that line in my family history, the idea of historical fiction set in Ireland really appeals to me. I love getting an historical setting for my different ancestors.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s