Historical Fiction: A Quest for Authenticity is the essay component of Colin Pearce’s MA thesis for which he was awarded a High Distinction in 2013. It is a commentary on the rigors of creative thinking and self analysis he experienced during the writing of the novel component. The novel I used to be dead, is also available on Amazon. Although it is an academic essay, one of the examiners wrote, ‘It has been a privilege to examine this work. The novel is outstanding and the exegesis is thoughtful, well researched and managed to answer many of my questions about the novel.’ The examiner also commented that he had rarely experienced such pleasure in examining a Master’s thesis.
In this essay Colin Pearce addresses the role existential anxiety plays in the mind of the creative writer and reveals how it fuelled his own work. He reveals the self doubts, arguments and questions he faced when creating an almost complete fiction set against the historical narrative in the New Testament about the raising of a child from death. The fact that the exercise would inevitably take him along paths that had the potential to trample sacred ground such as world-wide reverence for the Bible, widespread devotion to Jesus Christ and unwavering faith in his miracles, was at times terrifying.
This should be thoroughly stimulating to writers creating historical fiction no matter what the subject matter might be, be it the sinking of RMS Titanic, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the 1936 Olympic Games or the invention of the drinking straw.
Colin explains why he felt free to take liberties in some aspects of the story which hold no resemblance to the Biblical narrative – such as the family relationships he created between the townspeople and some of the Apostles, the tension between the protagonist and her mother, the home-life of the characters, their world view, their daily life and ambitions. Yet he also points to areas he found too sacrosanct to touch.
This essay will help other writers patch together history and their own fiction without tearing the fabric of fact.
Inducted into the Australian Speakers Hall of Fame in 2007, Colin Pearce has spent thirty years giving funny speeches at business conventions and teacher conferences in places as diverse as Beirut and Brisbane, Sydney and Singapore, Istanbul and Indiana, Lagos and Los Angeles, Vienna and Vietnam.
He doesn’t see himself as an academic and neither it seems do his peers. One fellow MA student (aged 23) referring to Colin even commented that he never thought he’d be in a class where the class clown was 63 years old. However Colin loves writing to make things clear for any reader and says, ‘My kind of academia is engagement, clarity and cut through.’
He has been telling stories and making up fun things for children a lot longer than that. A veteran of over 1000 children’s TV shows, he has written stories and poems and even a CD of sing-along songs called Billabong Songs.
Colin has also written six business books and many business training programs and has qualifications in theology and teaching and an MA in creative writing, but he likes people to know him simply as a story teller.
Of all the testimonials he has received, his favourite was written by a third grader in Sydney after one of his story telling visits. She wrote, ‘My little brother thought you were well worth the $2 ticket’.
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