Welcome to this week's episode of Book Talk. With me today is Heidi Brown, a historian who has written five critically acclaimed books about military history.
Thanks for having me, John. I'm so excited to talk about my latest book, which was published last month.
So, this book is a novel, your first attempt at that genre. And that's a bit of a departure for you.
I'd say it's a major departure as it's not just a work of fiction. It's set 200 years in the future.
Right. So how did that happen? You spent three decades writing about the past and focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries. And now you're speculating about the future.
Well, after years of researching soldiers and chronicling their lives during battle, I just started wondering about other facets of their lives, especially their personal lives.
I can see that. Your novel is about soldiers, but it focuses on their relationships, especially the bonds between sons and mothers, and men and their wives.
Yes. That focus came about when I still intended to write another book of history. I started by researching soldiers' actual personal lives, studying their letters home.
So how did that history book become a novel?
Well, I realized that the historical record was incomplete. So, I'd either have to leave a lot of gaps or make a lot more assumptions than a historian should.
But why write a novel set in the future, when your credentials are perfect for a historical novel? As a historian, any historical novel you write would have a lot of credibility.
I felt too constrained working with the past, like what I wrote needed to be fact as opposed to fiction, but writing about the future gave me more freedom to imagine, to invent.
Well, having read your book, I'm glad you made that choice to move into fiction.
Questions 5 to 8 are based on the conversation you have just heard.
Q5: What does the man say about the woman?
Q6: What does the woman say about her newly published book?
Q7: What did the woman do before writing her new book?
Q8: What does the woman say about her writing history books?