I’m in Belgium this week, right now I’m in Waterloo. I imagine that if you know anything about the Napoleonic wars, you will have heard of Waterloo. If not, then you might be interested to hear a massive battle happened here in the early 19th century. I’d quote the year, but I’ve already forgotten.
I’m no historian. In fact, I tend to actively avoid the stuff, like I’m doing now. You see, I’m at Waterloo because I’m on a battlefield study. It’s an event that’s being run for officer cadets by a fellow Army Reservist at the Army unit where I work. He’s a history teacher in his day job, he loves this stuff, I on the other hand abandoned history at age 14.
I’m at a battlefield study only because a driver was needed to drive the minibus to Belgium. I managed to get a minibus licence a few years back, and I’m an impoverished writer. If the army is willing to pay a Major’s wage for a driver, who am I do argue? There were no other volunteers…
I came on the proviso that I wouldn’t have to learn stuff. Depending how much online stalking you’ve done of me, you may be aware I have a research phobia. I learn stuff I need to know, when I need to know it (generally, there are exceptions). I write fantasy because I can make most of it up. The idea of writing historical fiction fills me with horror. I guess you’d really need to love history to do that!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind reading a bit of historical fiction. I’m a fan of Bernard Cornwell and Wilbur Smith and really enjoyed White Gold by Giles Milton – that’s definitely an eye opener of a book, by the way. I highly recommend it. You can learn stuff from historical fiction, where its based on historic reality. And historical fiction authors tend to try their best to do this. But researching stuff to write? Um, not for me, thanks.
So I’m sat in the minibus waiting for the tour of Waterloo to conclude for the day. The cadets are being taken from place to place on foot. Farms and fields are pointed at and the historic context of the landscape and what took place there is talked about. I listened to the first few bits. The tour guide, a chap called Marcus Cribb, really knows his stuff. I was interested in some of what he said, too. I was able to pay attention for at least ten minutes before my ADHD kicked in and sent my mind wandering towards more interesting past times, like picking my fingernails.
Seriously though, if you’re into history, I’d really recommend Marcus to take you on a tour like this. I’m just not into it. If I was being taken on a geological tour of some mountains and told about rock formations, that’s a bit more up my street. But I studied Earth Sciences at uni, so what do you expect?
I’m in Belgium this week, next week I’m supervising some more officer cadets while they do some parachuting. The week after I’m on holiday in Cornwall. Then the new academic year begins, and the training cycle of the University Officers’ Training Corps starts again (that’s where I work, by the way). September is also when I plan to start querying publishers and agents. I’m going to give the traditional publish route a stab for my next trilogy. I’ve run out of money for editors, and self-publishing hasn’t quite brought me the run-away success I was hoping for. So I’ll try something else, and see if it works. The story of my life…
Charlotte Goodwin is the author of the Gallantrian Legacy series. A set of six books (and counting) set in a universe where magic is real, there's just not much of it on Earth.