Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Historical Fiction with a Canadian Face (or two)

Historical Fiction is a genre that has many devotees, and it means something different to each one of them.  To me, history means home, heritage, roots, family.  Historical Fiction is an escape into a fascinating world based on the past.  So much about historical fiction is fun and adventurous.  The dashing and not so dashing intrigues of pirates, court rakes, courtesans, royalty and greedy lords and desperate ladies, intrigue and entertain us from the safety of an armchair.

In London, England this month the Historical Novel Society will be holding their annual conference.  Three exciting days of discussion, costumes, laughter, readings and pitch sessions about historical fiction.  Some of the top writers, editors, agents and publishers will be there, and from the costume banquet, to the sessions, to the book signings, and the Saturday Night Sex Readings, the event is packed with fun and fascinating facts and authors.

I am looking forward to being there with some fellow Canadians, to learning more about this fascinating genre, and to meeting a friend or two with the same interest and passion for history and story-telling.

Historical Novel Society

HNS conference June 2011

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Year of the Rabbit

The Year of the Rabbit was a particularly challenging one for me, not the least of which because my Dad passed away in September of 2011.  I had a special bond with my Dad.  He taught me so much about values and what to expect from life- and about what we need to put back in. 

When I was a child, I had a stray baby bunny as a pet- it had been dug up by the neighbourhood dog, and 'presented' to me.  Unfortunately, the poor thing died after a few weeks, and I was devastated.  My Dad helped me dig a hole in the garden, wrapped him lovingly in an old wool sock of his, and said a few words over the grave.  I never forgot that acknowledgement of my feelings, and my father's sensitivity in wanting to comfort me.

This Easter I visited my family in Kingston, and we had a quiet celebration of spring, hopeful for the renewal that comes with a new season, in a new year.  My sister gave me some photos my Dad took before he died, saying she thought I would like to have them.  I looked through them, and saw that they were of a rabbit amongst the clover in the backyard of our family home.  I thanked my sister sincerely for her thoughtfullness.  It was like a message from my Dad.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Vimy Ridge Remembered

Few sites in my life have been as meaningful and moving as that of the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge.  Monday marked the 95th anniversary of the battle that Canadians fought to win Vimy Ridge from enemy forces.  The students who made the pilgrimmage from London to Vimy Ridge to mark their respect for those who lost their lives to ensure our freedom no doubt experienced a deeply affecting emotion standing upon that site.  Their effort to honour the fallen contrasts sharply with the students I saw the day I stood upon Vimy Ridge, who were kidding around, pushing each other, and enjoying the freedom that had been won for them by a previous generation.  May we all remember what has been won for us, and never forget what it cost those who came before.

Students mark the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

At Vimy Ridge by S.A. Moore

Pictures of Vimy Ridge by S.A. Moore

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Writer's Quest for Story

Recently, an editor wrote to compliment my work, calling it a 'compelling story' and 'vividly drawn.'  Another editor wrote to say that she read 'with delight' my essay about Paul Quarrington, A Canadian in Paris.  It is thrilling to receive such endorsement from professionals in the field, and even more exciting when they want to publish your words, as in the case of the Montreal International Poetry Competition, from which I won a Longlist prize for my poem, "Lucas".

As writers with a world of story inside us, we want to be heard, we want readers to tell us they were moved.  And in that endeavour, we strive for excellence in our style, structure, character and all the nuances of craft that are needed to tell a compelling story. 

We are fortunate as writers to have a wide choice of workshops, conferences and events to assist us in this quest.  Upcoming for me are: the Pat Schneider Writing Retreat, the WCDR breakfast with speaker Dave Bedini (writer, musician and friend of Paul Quarrington), the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Program (CCWWP) conference, Words of the Season, the Durham Theatre Festival, and the Historical Novel Society conference in London, England. 

A busy and challenging schedule, but one I look forward to with relish.  In addition, the Coffee, Tea and Words literacy event, the Ontario Writers Conference, Spring Thaw writing retreat with Writescape, plus several other events and workshops are coming up.  Next fall, WCDR has Knopf Canada Random House editor Craig Pyette conducting sessions, and Words on the Street is scheduled for September.  Also planned by WCDR: a grant writing workshop, the business of publishing, and more agent/editor meetings! 

In addition, I was honoured to be a judge for the Len Cullen Writing Scholarships run by WCDR.  It was a joy reading the submisions of dozens of writers, outlining their writing goals and providing a sample of their work.  We were pleased to be able to award several thousand dollars in writing scholarships to aspiring and accomplished writers, so that they can pursue the advancement of their craft.  It is clear from the list above that they are spoiled for choice!  Every one of those writers and each one of those events will match skills and talents within the writing community and develop craft in writing.  I look forward to the stories they create!

For information on WCDR breakfasts, events and workshops, and the Len Cullen Scholarships click here. and go the workshop page and events calendar.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Canadian Literary Historical Fiction

I read an article in the Historical Novel Society's newsletter, about how Dickens set a 'new' standard in historical fiction.  He wrote with passion for character and respect for the past, a good goal for any historical fiction writer- and for readers, too! 

The great writers of classic literature have been a huge inspiration to me.  Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Dumas, they wrote about the foilables of human character, and the tragedies and comedies that human behaviour incites.  When writing about history, they commented on their own times as much as the times they wrote of, and their novels endure because their stories are unforgettable. 

In today's commercial world of guessing what markets want, or creating an expectation of story that satisfies a perceived market, we sometimes forget what is truly inspirational in those early works at the birth of the novel as an artform.  Make it resonate, and make it accessible. 

Canadian Literature is renowned for its beauty of language, its deep resonance, and its challenge to read.  American literature is renowned for its emphasis on plot and its accessibility.  The challenge of modern writers is to marry the two things readers want: style and story. 

As a writer, I hope to further the cause of modern writing with a respect for the past masters who knew how to weave a great story.  Canadian Literary Historical Fiction and Commercial Literary Contemporary Fiction are the hybrids of this philosophy.  Ultimately, telling a story that creates memorable characters is what it's all about. #CLHF

Friday, January 20, 2012

A New Year and New Worlds to Explore

Hope everyone had a great holiday season! 

As many of you know, 2011 was a particularly challenging year, but I have learned much about the strength of family and friends, lessons that will stand me well into 2012.  My mother in particular has been an inspiration to all of us.  Mary Helen Moore, born Mary Helen Clayton, is a loving, giving individual with fondness for the past and a spark of excitment for the future.  Even given the difficulties of the past year and her current battle with cancer, she has remained cheerful, optimistic and supportive towards us all in our grief over Dad's passing.  She looks forward to the possibilities that exist in our lives, joyful at our successes large or small, and encouraging in our trials and motivations.  Her smiling face has sustained me through the long hard road back to 'normal' existence, and her love for her family and interest in our lives has been miraculous. 

Thanks Mom, for being you, and never more than now, when some of us have found it hard to be ourselves in the midst of sorrowful times.  You are amazing!