The surprises and joys of historical fiction

A guest blog 
from Sandra Lindsey

UNDER LEADEN SKIES is, and always was, the story of Huw and Teddy (aka Max). Or rather it’s Teddy’s version of the story because it was only after several false starts that I tried writing a bit in first person from Teddy’s point of view and suddenly things started to click.

Some things clicked a little too well. Within a few pages, I found Teddy on rather intimate terms with someone who definitely wasn’t Huw. Cheeks was a complete surprise to me – I’d anticipated him becoming a close friend of Teddy’s, but not that close! Of course, once I learned that Sunderland flying boat crews always left a pair of men aboard, it seemed only natural that young men like Teddy and Cheeks might take advantage of such a situation …

Cheeks wasn’t the only character who surprised me: there was also Jem, who I hadn’t expected to return to the story until he did so, and Teddy’s grandfather who turned out to have some very different views to those I’d first imagined.

Aircraft were a little more predictable – although even there I found I had to re-write sections once I gained a better understanding of technical details. I can’t stress enough the value of being able to see preserved aircraft ‘up close and personal’ in museums as well as at airshows when creating a story like this. Sylvia’s reaction to the Spitfire is based on my own first encounter with one of the iconic single-engine fighters on the ground, although mine was at RAF Museum Cosford rather than on my in-laws’ cricket pitch!* Other parts of that scene are based on a tale I heard of wartime goings-on in the village where I live: it wasn’t a Spitfire or a cricket pitch, but there were hastily erected anti-aircraft defences involved.

This is where I find the most joy in historical fiction – as both a writer and as a reader – the weaving of real historical events into a fictional narrative. Truth is always stranger than fiction, but in fiction we can skip the boring parts.

*None of my in-laws have a cricket pitch, as far as I know.


Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including UNDER LEADEN SKIES – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

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