TOUR GUIDE PUBLIC LIBRARY MOVIE THEATER POW LIFE MILITARY LIFE ON THE RADIO WORLD TOUR

Why a Time Machine?

Why do we need a time machine? Because one of the hardest things about writing historical fiction is writing the characters as authentic people of their time, rather than writing them as modern people in period costume. We can read, we can study, we can watch the BBC and the History Channel until our eyes glaze over, but we're still seeing their world through a modern lens.

Fish, the saying goes, do not see water. They have been immersed in it all their lives, so it is an invisible part of their world. Frogs see water, however, because they go from water to land and back again. They have experience with both worlds, the terrestrial and the aquatic. That makes the difference between the indefinite and definite article, between water as a world rather than water as the world. That is why repressive governments try to deny their citizens any knowledge of the world outside their borders: should they learn that absolute obedience to the Great Leader is just one of many ways things could be, they might choose a different one, which tends to be fatal to tyrants. In order to write historical fiction well, we need to overthrow the tyranny of our own life experience. We need to see the water. We need to become historical amphibians.

That is what this virtual time machine is all about.