E. V. Thompson on Writing Historical Novels and ‘The Bonds of Earth’

The Bonds of EarthI am often asked why I chose to write Historical Novels when there is much in my own background that would be of interest to readers. The easy answer is that I am essentially a private person who prefers to keep work and home life separate. Were I to set my stories in the present day I feel readers would imagine they could detect some of my own exeriences in the novels – and they could well be right!

As it is, by having my characters living more than 100 years ago the time gap is too much to be put down to personal experience. Nevertheless, my research shows time and time again that those who lived, for instance, in the Victorian era, had emotions and experienced situations that had quite as much impact on their everyday lives as they would have today – however improbable such situations may seem to be.

For instance, in my book The Bonds of Earth, to be published by Robert Hale in November this year, a farm on which the young hero has worked since he was a boy is given to him by a grateful farmer. Far-fetched and stretching imagination too far?

Well, when I returned from Africa to live in Cornwall some forty-odd years ago I bought an old cottage from an 83 year-old farmer. As a young boy he began working on two farms, one from dawn until midday, the other from midday until dusk, seven days a week.

When one of the farmers died childless, leaving behind a seriously disabled widow, the now newly-married farm labourer and his wife took her in and cared for her until she too died, but before doing so she made a gift of the farm to the young man who had done so much to help her and her husband.

When I knew him the one-time farm labourer was an old man, but he was still as indomitable as he had been as a boy, despite living in a world that had changed almost beyond recognition during his lifetime.

The life of that old man planted the seed of a story that remained with me until I felt able to embellish and make use of it in The Bonds of Earth.

E. V. Thompson

E. V. Thompson has written numerous novels. His latest, Beyond the Storm is out this month in paperback and available to pre-order now. The Bonds of Earth is set for publication in November 2012.

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