The inspiration for my style of historical fiction writing comes from my reading. I read several Dennis Wheatley books as a teenager. Wheatley is probably best known for his occult novels like The Devil Rides Out. However the ones that most influenced me are The Second Seal and Vendetta in Spain. The Second Seal was recommended reading at some schools, because it traced the events leading up to WWI in an entertaining and memorable way.

Vendetta in Spain did the same for the Spanish Civil War. I think my style of writing owes much to the way Wheatley set his characters into historical events, interacting with real historical characters. I blogged earlier about 70% of the characters in The Spy who Sank the Armada being real historical characters. In one way that’s just a result of it being biographical in essence. But if I hadn’t enjoyed Wheatley’s books, I might never have tried it. I understand that one of Wheatley’s characters Gregory Sallust, was part of the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. So I’m in good company.

I find that one of the great joys of writing is doing the research. It’s fascinating reading about the lives of historical people, particularly when one of them is an ancestor. It’s also interesting to learn about people’s motivations and beliefs. One of the first things I discovered in researching my current book, Called to Account, was the connection between climate change and witch trials. A little ice age at the beginning of the 17th century resulted in crop failures. Since God had created a prefect world, somebody had to be to blame. So some people started looking for witches to blame. Where there was a large Jewish population, they got the blame instead. Hopefully now we can blame ourselves and our ancestors for climate change, and better still, do something about it.