Clifford Beal is the author of The Raven’s Banquet and Gideon’s Angel, both published by Solaris Books

Which Witch? Balancing Fact And Fancy In Historical Fantasy

by Clifford Beal

Historical fantasy is certainly nothing new in the world of genre fiction: it’s been with us for decades. Depending upon how you define it, it has roots in the epics of ancient history, the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, and in modern times has had authors as diverse as Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Dunsany, Anne Rice and Bernard Cornwell. The sheer scope of historical fantasy today—covering everything from ancient Rome and the medieval world all the way to Victorian England—gives readers a vast horizon to explore and enjoy. And done well, adding a fantastical element to otherwise straight-laced historical fiction can enhance not only an awareness of a particular epoch, it can add a new dimension in character and plot. Just how would an 18th century gentleman handle a close encounter with a denizen of the Faerie Seelie Court? Done less well, crossing genres can result in a head-on train wreck of a story with the fantasy bits just bolted on for thrill value and with little or no thought given to context, time, or place.

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INTERVIEW: Clifford Beal, Author of Gideon’s Angel

Clifford Beal, originally from Providence, Rhode Island, worked for 20 years as an international journalist and is the former editor-in-chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly in London. He is the author of Quelch’s Gold (Praeger Books 2007), the true story of a little-known but remarkable early 18th century Anglo-American pirate. But he’s also been scribbling fiction from an early age: his seventh grade English teacher nicknamed him “Edgar Allen” undoubtedly due to the gothic subject matter of his extremely short stories. His debut novel, Gideon’s Angel, was published by Solaris Books in March 2013.

For recreation, Clifford used to don plate armour and bash the tar out of people in the Society for Creative Anachronism before moving to more civilised pursuits such as 17th century rapier and dagger fighting and motorcycling (though not simultaneously). Today, he is more likely to be found at the seaside or the Savile Club in London, sharing good wine and conversation in a place where the sparring is usually only verbal.

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