Sunday, August 29, 2010

What is Katie Hickman reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Katie Hickman, author of The Aviary Gate and The Pindar Diamond.

Her entry begins:
I've just come back from our family holiday in France - so I've done a fair amount of novel reading recently, more so than I usually do when I'm at home working.

When I'm writing fiction I find it incredibly hard to read other people's novels. Somehow the voices of all those other characters get inside my head and distract me from hearing my own fictional voices - those elusive siren songs - and so during a writing period I tend to concentrate on non-fiction, mostly research-related. I'm a real magpie - anything from clothes, furniture and food, to politics and merchant trading-rights . It's what I call the 'what they eat for breakfast' factor. The greater the detail the better. With The Aviary Gate and The Pindar Diamond this has been the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean period, in England, Turkey and Venice. I really love the research I do for my novels, and it's probably the reason I write historical fiction. Any excuse to get into that library.

But on holiday - what a feast! I had almost forgotten the exquisite pleasure of sinking down into someone else's fictional world. An English novelist friend, Howard Jacobsen, has just published a new book, The Finkler Question, but since it's only out in hardback, I took with me his first novel instead, Coming From Behind, which I have never read. It describes the life and various disappointments (sexual, professional, and otherwise) of an academic working in a small town polytechnic in the north of England. In the hands of almost anyone else this would be a totally dismal subject, but Howard is one of those rare writers who can...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Pindar Diamond:
"Katie Hickman’s vividly drawn historical confection transports us to 17th-century Venice, where an English merchant schemes to win the 322-carat gem of the novel’s title at the gaming table while several storylines converge with page-turning satisfaction."
—Barnes & Noble Review

“Hickman’s well-researched, vivid portraits of seventeenth-century life—from the stinking Venetian canals to the threat of plague, in settings ranging from a sultan’s harem to a cloistered convent—add much vigor to this historical novel.”—Booklist

“Masks, courtesans, nefarious plots, plague—Hickman’s panorama of early-17th-century Venice has it all.”
Kirkus Reviews
Learn more about the author and her work at Katie Hickman's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Aviary Gate.

Writers Read: Katie Hickman.

--Marshal Zeringue