Conscious Uncoupling

Published May 5, 2014 by A.J.B. Johnston

The phrase comes from Gwyneth Paltrow, but it speaks to my first two books of period fiction. Both Thomas, A Secret Life and The Maze are set in the 18th century and have a central character inspired by an actual historical figure (Thomas Pichon, 1700-1781). But that’s it, at least so far in the project. The over-riding aim of the first two books is not to re-create Pichon, though that’s likely what some might think I’m aiming to do. Rather, I am choosing to explore ambition, longing and betrayal by using a small cast of characters (mostly invented) as they go through life in what I think was a fascinating time period. For the most part it’s a conscious uncoupling from what history suggests occurred in the real Pichon’s real life at that time. As a result, I prefer the term period fiction to historical fiction to describe both Thomas and The Maze. Eventually, in what will be the final novel in the set, I will have to recouple my Thomas with historical Thomas, but that has not happened yet.

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