Diney Costeloe on writing historical fiction


Diney Costeloe on writing historical fiction

Diney Costeloe's latest novel, The Married Girls, is out next week so we caught up with her on finding inspiration, writing historical fiction and a return to a familiar character.

What is the inspiration for your books?

The inspiration can come from anywhere: something I overhear, something I read, and very often from the research I’m doing for another book. Something catches my attention, stays in the recesses of my mind and then, later, I go back and search it out. How do you research your novels? I read diaries, memoirs, letters – things that were written by people who were actually there at the time. You can’t beat those and it stops you making anachronistic mistakes. If they saw something, or mention something that actually happened to them, you can slip that into your story, to give added authenticity, knowing that it was quite possible.

Why do you choose to write historical fiction and what attracts you to the war era?

I have always loved history and, in particular, social history. The social world, different thoughts, different values, different moral codes. How people lived their daily lives. What they thought. What happened to them throughout their lives. How they coped with the difficult situations with which they were faced – disease, war, famine, injustice. All the things we still have to face, but from the perspective of their era. I was once asked why I wrote so much about war. I said it wasn’t war I was writing about, but the people caught up in it; people trying to survive. Everyone born, anywhere, at any time, has a story. Somewhere among them there are characters like mine. I try to tell their stories.

The Married Girls provides readers with the chance to see Charlotte from The Girl with No Name as an adult. Why did you decide to return to this character?

I think about my favourite characters; they are very real to me and I find myself wondering what happened to them next. I was interested in how Charlotte might recover from the trials she went through as a refugee child. The war is over, she’s married and is living an ‘ordinary’ life in the village which gave her safe haven during the war. How different from her early life. Is she happy? Does she adapt? Does she become different? I didn’t know until I went back to find out.

Diney Costeloe's latest novel, The Married Girls, is available to preorder in hardback and available now in e-book