Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sarah Porter

Sarah Porter is the author of the Lost Voices Trilogy (Lost Voices, Waking Storms, The Twice Lost) in addition to Vassa in the Night—all for the teen audience.

Her new novel is When I Cast Your Shadow.

Recently I asked Porter about what she was reading. Porter's reply:
For the last few years I’ve been working intermittently on an historical novel set in 1816. The amount of research it takes to understand the period is truly intimidating, and most of my reading now is focused on that era. I see a lot of historical fiction that takes great care with the dresses and carriages, but gives the characters completely modern outlooks. I’m trying to grasp how people of that era actually thought about the issues confronting them. Free speech was still a contested ideal in England, with journalists clapped in the stocks for criticizing the regent. The deceased Mary Wollstonecraft was fervently hated for asserting that women might possess something resembling humanity. And even radicals thought that organizing working-class people was simply too dangerous to risk.

Recently I’ve been reading Shelley: The Pursuit by Richard Holmes. My characters are intellectuals and poets, o Shelley and his friends offer a great window into the ideas they would have been discussing. It’s a fascinating but very long biography, published in 1975. I sometimes find it painfully sexist—Mary Shelley’s mind was “curiously masculine,” really? But overall it’s providing a lot of insight into the attitudes of the era. After the Shelley bio, I have a volume of Byron’s letters waiting. There’s a particular tone to 19th century snark that I’m trying to capture, and Byron’s snark was the best of his time!

Now and then I can’t resist taking a break from research. I recently finished Brittany Cavallaro’s The Last of August, a mystery in which the descendants of Watson and Holmes team up to find Charlotte Holmes’s missing uncle. It’s dark, brutal, scathing, and yet still full of charm and wit. And Ann Leckie’s Provenance just came out. I’m not made of stone and I won’t be able to hold back from reading it for long!
Visit Sarah Porter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue