What inspired YOU to write?

 

The winner of the 2018 11-15yrs Young Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (YWSP), Jenny O’Gorman from Edinburgh, was inspired by a striking memorial to those who died during the Irish Potato Famine. 70423-famine_memorial_coffin_ship_2Her story Shadow of Hunger tells of the desperation of those who boarded ships to a find a better life in the US.

Joseph Burton from Kent, winner of the 2018 16-19yrs prize was inspired to write his suspense story Dust On The Road by the work he did during his GCSE History on the Great Depression in the United States during the 1930s.

How do your ideas emerge?

I remember, when I was around 14 or 15, the moment when an idea took hold. But better than that, I still remember the excitement I felt when I felt the idea forming in my head. It was as if there was a time before the idea and the time after the idea. Between not having it and having it, my life changed.

I was on horseback, riding fast across the sands towards Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, the sea wild on my left and the other people in my group yelling with excitement on their horses in front of me. It was the nearest I ever came to flying and it was my moment, and not anyone else’s. The idea I had was about how important it was to trust the moment I found myself in, and to pay attention to everything that was around me, otherwise the memory would be lost in time.

The source material for a Historical Fiction story is out there, just waiting to picked up, rolled around your mind and written about. And it can also be in there – in you as you experience the place you find yourself in. This is why we developed the Imagining History workshops. We put you in a place and at a time where an idea you never previously though about might grow and develop in your mind.

We want you to feel that shiver in time when an idea can make you into a new person.There you are, surrounded by the fizzing inspiration of objects and place and a feeling that real people in history once existed there or once held the object you are touching. Slowly but surely an idea emerges into your writer’s mind! Many of our young writers say that they grew ideas during a workshop that they could not have predicted they would ever have.

With the added spur of finishing your entry for the Young Walter Scott Prize, who knows where your initial inspiration will take you, when you explore a time before you were born when the world was very different to the world of your present time.

People in history were just like us – same needs and wants and dilemmas and big questions –  except that the details of the living of their lives were different. As a Historical Fiction writer you are free to base your story on events, people and places that already figure in history. Then, by adding experiences from your own life into the mix and imagining how the people of the past might have been thinking,  you can create a completely new take on the historical time period you are writing about.

Who is to say that the insights you have are wrong? A fiction writer’s job is to explore ideas and characters – to create new dreams and inspire new thoughts. A Historical Fiction writer’s job is to explore history and to take their readers to a time and place where they never expected to get to. You are a time traveller – you, your imagination and your notebook.

Imagining History UK 2019

The Director and Development team of The Imagining History UK Programme are proud to announce:

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Along with The Young Walter Scott Prize, we are now in our fourth year of inspiring young people to explore the writing of Historical Fiction.  Together with the challenge of the Prize, IHUK is the only creative writing programme for teenage writers in the UK focusing on the research and writing of Historical Fiction. We appeal to both young fiction writers and young historians. We offer opportunities to get out into the historical environment to see, sense and feel the richness that is available to enrich creative thinking and writing.

From modest beginnings at two venues and two workshops in 2015, we have expanded to nine venues and 14 workshops nationwide in 2019.

Innovations this year include our first two workshops in London and a psycho-geographical-historical exploration of the extraordinary waterfronts of Great Yarmouth.

In Cornwall our young writers will give a live public performance of excerpts of their work at the personal invitation of Patrick Gale, Artistic Director of The North Cornwall Book Festival.

We are open for bookings from schools and Sixth Form Colleges, individual over-16s attending under their own steam and home-schooled students. For further details, and to book places: YWSPrize@outlook.com

Scottish Borders         Bowhill House, Selkirk       The House Breathes…        17 June

Edinburgh                     Trinity House of Leith         They Went to Sea…            20, 21 June

Cornwall                         Trerice              A Cornish Journey pt1                   27 June & 5 July

London                           Wallace Collection   The Time-Traveller’s Map            2, 16 July

Norwich                         Museum of Norwich    Starting With Samson…           6, 9,10 July

Woodbridge                  Sutton Hoo  On the Border of Myth and History          8 July

Aylsham                        Blickling    The People That Changed The Land            11 July

Great Yarmouth & The Elizabeth House    From Shoreline to Quayside       12 July

Cornwall                       Penhallam Manor    A Cornish Journey pt 2        2 Sept dates tbc

Special performance: The North Cornwall Book Festival                         11 October

We are, as we have been since our establishment, generously hosted by properties owned and managed by Heritage Environment Scotland, English Heritage, the National Trust, the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust, Norfolk Museums and the Wallace Collection. We are grateful to the staff, volunteers and resident experts who make our young writers feel at home as they explore these amazing places. We are deeply grateful to our ongoing collaborative and creative partnership with the Young Norfolk Arts Festival, and IlluminateUK in Edinburgh.