FAQ #9: Inspired

What do you read for inspiration?

I tend to read novels set in whatever time period I am writing about. I like to see how other authors tackle the tricky problems involved in writing historical fiction: authenticity vs. info dumps, history vs. imagination, how they invent the past.  

During the years I worked on the medieval books, I read a heap of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael books. Fabulous books. 

I also read a lot of middle grade novels since that’s what I write.

At the moment I’m reading the delightful Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead about Livy and her friend, Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, and Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s The Book of Boy, in which a Medieval child named Boy discovers his courage, his skills, and his wings—literally. I’m loving it.

Brother Cadfael, Bob, The Book of Boy

Have I got a book for you!

NestHere’s Karen’s advice for today: stop whatever you’re doing and read Esther Ehrlich’s Nest, middle-grade fiction from Random House Children’s Books. It is quite simply splendid. Salt Marsh Lane on Cape Cod in 1972 is home to eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein and her family. The year brings terrible changes to the Orensteins. Chirp survives through the healing power of family, her relationship to the natural world, and her growing friendship with the irresistible Joey Morell (Joey is a terrific character—I hope he gets his own book so we can be sure everything turns out okay for him). I challenge you to get through the book without laughing, mopping up a few tears, and scolding a few hurtful adults. Nest is real and true, touching and wise. The prose is lyrical, the characters lovable, the tragedy heartbreaking. I recommend it highly and plan to read it again right away.