Speaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists on Writing Historical Fiction
Wyile conducted interviews with eleven writers of Canadian historical fiction to create a wide-ranging conversation about the challenges and significance of historical writing. The critical backdrop of postcolonialism, the increased recognition of Native peoples (and the decrease in the Anglocentric viewpoint), and the complicated relationship of fiction and history all provide fascinating points of discussion. Authors interviewed are Guy Vanderhaeghe, Rudy Wiebe, Jane Urquhart, Wayne Johnston, George Elliott Clarke, Margaret Sweatman, Fred Stenson, Joseph Boyden, Heather Roberston, Thomas Wharton, and Michael Crummey, who provide not only geographic representation, but also a range of writing experience and viewpoints. Readers can discover the very real connections between the writers and history, such as Heather Robertson’s revelation, at age ten, that the information on gravestones told stories about the people buried underneath; Joseph Boyden’s interest in military history and Aboriginal soldiers stemmed from a desire to know more about his father, whom he never knew. Brief author biographies and pictures (both contemporary and historical) add further layers of meaning to this insightful volume.