Kate Mosse on her favourite novels and what makes a good story
We spoke to Kate Mosse, author of the epic historical fiction series The Burning Chambers, about her favourite novels and what makes a good story.
As a bestselling historical fiction novelist and the co-founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Kate Mosse knows a thing or two about writing – and reading – great novels. The Burning Chambers, the first novel in Kate’s historical fiction series of the same name, was a Sunday Times number one bestseller, and the second book in the series, The City of Tears has just published to great acclaim. Lucy Foley, author of The Hunting Party, called it ‘a gorgeously written, utterly absorbing epic.’ We asked Kate what makes a good story, and which novels she returns to again and again.
Discover more about The Burning Chambers series.
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Kate Mosse’s tips for what makes a good story
Jeopardy: There has to be jeopardy. There has to be the idea that somebody wants something, and somebody else is going to prevent them from getting it.
Mystery: I think there has to be mystery, the idea that you’re not entirely sure what’s going on. Are you being duped by the characters, or can you trust them? I’ve always loved an unreliable narrator.
Sense of place: I think there’s got to be a real sense of place in historical fiction. You need to really believe that if you closed your eyes you could open them again and you’d be there in the sixteenth century or seventeenth century, and feel that it’s true.
A sense of the unexpected: I think you also need to have a sense of the unexpected so that you think you know what sort of book you’re going to read, but the minute you get immersed in it, it turns out to be an altogether different type of book.
A satisfying ending: It’s important that you have a good and satisfying ending. That old-fashioned idea that you build and build to the big climax where everything comes together at once.