Adam Foulds gave a masterclass on fiction that incorporates real people’s lives, or ‘bio-fiction’ at Somerset House.

Top Tips

  • Research your subject thoroughly, through biographies, letters and diaries. Clarify your thinking about them, about what the story is that you have to tell.
  • Research your period. Get a sense of its picture of the world, its politics and religion. Social history is particularly important and useful: fashion, food, language. These give you much of the texture of everyday life.
  • Write as though you’d done no research and were inventing. Take for granted what the characters do. See what they see. Allow yourself to know much more than you say.
  • Be a novelist, i.e. enjoy yourself, be shameless, think of impressing and entertaining your readers.

Reading List

Penelope Fitzgerald The Blue Flower
Alethea Hayter A Sultry Month
Don DeLillo Libra
Gordon Burn Alma Cogan