All writing is some mix of invention and discovery, but the historical novel demands it. We’re obsessed with a real-life figure, the qualities of an era, or a story from another time, but how do we enter that world, find the right shape for our story, give it energy and movement, and know where it ends? How do we take the unwieldy sprawl of another life in another time and make it our own?
We’ll share a few examples of how it’s been done (Parini, Doerr, O’Farrell, Oates), but mostly we’ll ask how you will do it. Through playful thought experiments/writing exercises you’ll explore tools you already have (and others that will come in handy) to discover the essential story you want to tell, the themes that animate it (and you), and how to bring it all to propulsive life.
About Samantha Silva
Samantha Silva is an author and screenwriter based in Idaho. Over her career, she’s sold film projects to Paramount, Universal, and New Line Cinema. Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft is her second novel. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in One Story and LitHub. A short film, The Big Burn, which she wrote and directed, premiered at the Sun Valley Film Festival in 2018. She was a 2020 Idaho Commission on the Arts Literary Fellow and a 2022 Bread Loaf Fellow. Her adaptation of her debut novel, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, had its world premiere at Seattle Repertory Theater in 2022.
Silva graduated from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where she studied in Bologna, Italy and Washington, D.C. She’s lived in London three times, briefly in Rome, is an avid Italophile, and a forever Dickens devotee
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