Meet the Book Links 2022 Children’s Historical Fiction Award Short List: #1 Mirranda Burton
There are four brilliant writers on the Book Links Children’s Historical Fiction Award Shortlist, Mirranda Burton, Lorraine Marwood, Katrina Nannestad and Wendy Orr. Each one has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about writing historical fiction for StoryLinks.
is the author of Underground described by the judges as ‘a carefully researched and ambitious graphic novel which reveals all the drama and conflict of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War where civil conflict, racism and division are part of a long legacy of colonialism. It is a complex tale, spanning decades, countries, politics, the arts, beliefs and truths. It is told with skill through text and illustration, and makes recent history accessible to a broad audience.’
Mirranda is attending the Book Links online event on Wednesday July 27 where the winner will be announced. You can meet her and find out who the winner is by attending the online event on Wednesday 27 July details here.
Mirranda, thank you for talking to StoryLinks
1) Why do you write historical novels? I believe that looking at the past helps us understand the present, our current challenges, and gives us powerful clues as to how we might build a better future.
2) What attracted you to the particular time in? I was drawn to the energy and hope of 1960s/70s Australia, and the fact that hope drove action, resulting in real change. Stories of this time made me realise what might be possible in meeting our significant current challenges in the world today.
3) How do you ensure that your characters are ‘in period’ and not modern people transported into the past? It may explain the attraction of ‘time-slip’ novels where characters with modern attitudes can provide a commentary on past values and beliefs. What are your thoughts on this? I was lucky to be writing about real people who are still alive and who could correct me when I made stray presumptions about them in the past. I was also lucky in having Vietnamese cultural consultants, one of whom had her grandmother check my drawings. Despite so much meticulous research I had got a significant detail wrong in my depiction of North Vietnam in the ’60s. Thankfully I was able to make the necessary corrections. I can see the attraction of ‘time-slip’ novels, but I don’t think this genre relinquishes the author’s responsibility in understanding the era on which they are commenting. The nuances between past and present perspectives need to be apparent.
4) What kind of research did you do for this novel? Who/what were the best sources of information? I started by reading history books, but it was talking to people that brought the history to life. I found oral histories made for personalised, engaging and authentic story telling. I was more comfortable telling real people’s stories as I felt so often out of my depth with the subject matter.
5) Are you working on any more historical novels? If yes, can you tell us a bit about it? I am doing a lot of research into South African history (my own heritage) and open to where that might lead. I am also in the preliminary stages of possibly working on a graphic novel about decolonisation, collaborating with a script writer. It is hard to know how the cards will fall at this stage, but I certainly look forward to more explorations of human history.
Mirranda is attending the online event on Wednesday July 27. You can meet her and find out who the winner is by attending the online event on Wednesday 27 July details here.
Find out more about Mirranda Burton at http://mirrandaburton.com/