Guest Post: In Praise of Sentences, by Barbara Baig
All the posts I mentioned at the York Festival of Writing 2015

Creative thinking, creative writing, Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction, and all that (Darwin) stuff ...

What with finishing Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction (the copy-edited manuscript has just landed on my desk) and the way I keep acquiring new writers to mentor, I've been thinking a lot lately about not just creative writing, but creative thinking. It's what writers don't necessarily have in common with literary critics, and may have in common with geologists. It's what choreographers have in common with farriers, and mathematicians with symphonists, and architects with historians. And it's what my physicist grandfather Charles had in common with his composer cousin Ralph, and their shared ancestors Erasmus and Josiah ...

Leith Hill Place, Dorking, Surrey
CREATIVE DARWINS: The Darwin-Wedgwood Clan in Science and the Arts
Saturday 26th September 2015, 2.30pm
Yes, I've been clambering around in the branches of the family tree, exploring how creative thinking in my family works across and between science and the arts, and I'll be giving an illustrated talk about what I've discovered. Leith Hill Place was the childhood home of Ralph Vaughan Williams and is now owned by the National Trust: it's a charming house in beautiful countryside.  Click the link above for more information, or contact Leith Hill Place, on 01306 711 685 or

As for GET STARTED IN WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION, you know that moment when you think "Oh, my goodness! Look! It's a real book!"? Well, that moment's arrived. It's part of a series, so I did know roughly what it would look like, and yet I'm so excited to actually see it. We are visual animals, I guess, and seeing the Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction cover is another step of it solidifying from ideas and connections in my head, become words, and pages, and actual paper. I do actually have the insides of it on my virtual desktop, but you'll have to wait a little to see those: the real book will be available for anyone to buy in March 2016.

And if you're interested in writing historical fiction, or just like reading it, I'm doing lots more with it in the next couple of months:

Leith Hill Place, Dorking, Surrey

Saturday 10th October 2015, 10am
How do you root your fiction in history, without getting stuck in the mud? How do you make characters come alive across the centuries? How do you tell a great story when you have to look everything up? In this intensive and practical one-day workshop, we will tackle the challenges of setting your fiction in the past. We'll explore period voice and language, characterisation and structure, as well as how to find and handle researched material so your novel doesn't turn into a history book, and the particular problems of using real historical characters. All in the inspirational setting of historic Leith Hill Place. Lunch included. Click the link above for more information, or contact Leith Hill Place, on 01306 711 685 or

Guildford Book Festival
Monday 12th October 2015, 7.15pm
Do you have a compelling vision for a story set in the past? Are you inspired by novelists such as Hilary Mantel and Philippa Gregory? Join me for this inspiring workshop designed foranyone who wants to write in this genre of fiction, whatever your preoccupation or 'era'. We'll explore key ideas to help crystallize thought, and a wealth of supplementary material and devices that are indispensable for aspiring novelists.

I'm thrilled to be involved with the inaugural DULWICH LITERARY FESTIVAL where on Sunday 18th October, at 3.30pm, I'll be in conversation with Kate Mosse about her new novel The Taxidermist's Daughter.

Harrogate History FestivaL
Thursday 22nd October, 3.30pm
Join me and Sally O'Reilly for a workshop which will explore how to make your readers believe in the story you want to tell: covering imagining, researching and writing historical fiction, thinking about what twenty-first century readers of all kinds are looking for, how to approach publishers, and what’s involved if you decide to self-publish. Sally is the author of Dark Aemilia and other novels and a hugely experienced teacher of writing
Friday 23rd October, 10.30am 
Also at Harrogate, I'm looking forward to chairing The Lengths They Will Go To, which brings together Elizabeth Buchan, David Ebsworth, Marina Fiorato and Claire Mulley, to discuss how war and other extreme situations offer women, in particular, a kind of liberation that peace never could. Harrogate History is only in its third year, but it's already one of the places for all things historical.

And just in case you're wondering, this is what just one corner of my desk looked like by the time I'd got the manuscript of Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction off to my editor at John Murray Learning. The computer is just beyond the right-hand edge, and there were as many books again stacked beyond that. They are all now back on the shelves, and the purple spotty slipper, you'll be delighted to know, has been reunited with its pair.