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Your Guide to Writing Creative Histories

“What links the fidelity of the historian and the imagination of the historical novelist is that the work of both should be offered and read as if it were true.”
– Peter Stanley.

The past ought to be a goldmine for historians and creative writers—but historical sources so often give you only part of the story. How do writers make it live? The thinking they follow, the creativity they bring, the liberties they take—and the liberties they won’t take—are outlined here.

If it’s Not True it Should Be centres around the state of Australian historical fiction and is comprised of several pieces which illustrate the way in which history and literature relate to each other. Paul Ashton introduces ten masters of creative non-fiction, to show how literature bridges the gap between imagination and accuracy; how it gives writers the power to make history immediate, personal and accessible to readers at all levels.  


Stephanie Ho
Sarah Luke
Peter Stanley
Clare Hallifax
Alison Lloyd
Sophie Masson
Stephanie Owen Reeder
Felicity Pulman
and Philippa Werry

Apart from being passionate about history, the contributors in this book all share a desire to harness the past in their creative writing practices: to draw on historical sources, both traditional and promiscuous; to develop well grounded historical imaginations which allow them to fill cracks, gaps or chasms in what are invariably incomplete, invented or censored archives; to look through the eyes of others; to read historical landscapes on the ground and in the mind; and to look to history for inspiration. Like all good creative non-fiction history and historical fiction, it’s engaging, evocative of time and place, deals with significant events and issues—however large or small—shows different perspectives and is well researched.

PAUL ASHTON is adjunct professor and co-founder of the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology Sydney and adjunct professor at the University of Canberra and Macquarie University. He has authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited over 40 books and is editor of the journal Public History Review. His series of creative non-fiction children’s histories—Accidental Histories—is being published by Halstead Press.


RRP $33.95

240mm x 160mm
Paperback, 128pp.

ISBN: 9781920831158