Historical fiction rocks!

Posted by Jazz on Monday June 26th, 2017

We are super excited to share the news that Black Powder by Ally Sherrick has WON the Historical Association's Young Quills Award! We're over the moon for Ally and her brilliant book. To celebrate, Ally shares why she loves a bit of history ...

I spent a big part of my childhood – when I wasn’t beavering away at school of course! – clambering over the ruins of castles and monasteries and burying my head in books about ancient Greek heroes, Tudor spies and Victorian crooks. So it’s probably no great surprise that when I finally picked up my quill and settled down to write my own stories, I got into my time-machine and set the dial firmly for the past.

Black Powder, my debut novel about a boy who gets mixed up in the Gunpowder Plot, has been out there in the wild for almost a year now. And as I’ve travelled to schools and festivals since its publication last August, one thing has come over loud and clear: CHILDREN LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION! Not all children of course – the world would be a rather one dimensional place if they did. But LOTS of them.

Here’s how I think I know:

  • The great engagement and the brilliant questions I get during school visits. Because my story is based on a real event in the past, my talks are quite history-rich, but the children are still there riding along with me, my young hero, Tom Garnett and his mysterious friend, the Falcon, by the end of them. And of course, the bits about hangings, heads on spikes and general gore go down very well too!
  • The many letters and cards I’ve received which tell me how much young readers have enjoyed my book – and how much they love reading historical fiction too.
  • And – at the risk of my head swelling and needing to be chopped off for too much trumpet-blowing – the bunch of awards shortlistings Black Powder has been fortunate enough to receive. Many of these – including the Historical Association’s Young Quills Award 2017 – were shortlists drawn up by the children themselves.

So, long live stories set in the past! And, if you’re not sure where you’d like to travel back to, why not try some of the titles that first inspired me ...

Some of Ally’s favourite historical fiction stories:

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden – Carrie and her brother, Nick uncover a mystery connected with a cursed skull when they’re evacuated to Wales during the Second World War.

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively – A troublesome 17th century poltergeist haunts young hero, James with funny and sometimes alarming consequences.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken – Set in an ‘alternative’ history of 19th century England, it tells the story of cousins Bonnie and Sylvia and their attempts to defeat the evil plans of their governess Miss Slighcarp. Warning: comes with wolves!

Follow Ally Sherrick on Twitter: @ally_sherrick

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