I agree with… Karen Maitland

Karen Maitland “Do all the research, then close the textbooks and just write a cracking good story. It’s the story that has to come first. The detail has got to be right but you’re telling a story, not writing a history book.”
[Karen Maitland, in an interview with The Bookseller magazine May 30, 2014]

Karen Maitland

[photo: karenmaitland.com]

Maitland is talking here about her new novel The Vanishing Witch. Like her previous novels, it is a medieval thriller. She is meticulous about her research, even cooking the food she writes about. “I think that’s quite important because medieval food was so different from our own. It’s so strangely spiced – for example sandalwood was a flavouring.”

Interesting, that she puts the emphasis on story. No matter how in-depth the research, if the story idea is rubbish then the novel will be rubbish. Thank you Karen Maitland.

Click here to visit Karen Maitland’s website.

If you agree with Karen Maitland, perhaps you will agree with:-
Joel and Ethan Coen – on genre types of characters
Hilary Mantel – remembers the first time she read ‘Jane Eyre’
Kate Atkinson – on using your own life and family, then fictionalising it

Karen Maitland


‘The Vanishing Witch’ by Karen Maitland [UK: Headline]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Research, then get on with the #writing: I agree with… Karen Maitland via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-12J


  1. I agree – I had to research all sorts of things outside my general knowledge to write my book but it’s crucial to let these things inform what you write rather than just regurgitate facts on the page.