For me, Cultural Exchanges kicked off on Monday when Gary Day interviewed historical writer, spiritualist and former animal anaesthetist, Manda Scott. I was particularly interested in hearing about her research methods as I'd recently written a historically-based short story for an assignment.
Interestingly, she began writing her famous Boudica series, knowing nothing of Boudica but her name which she spelt wrongly! This was the result of a ‘vision quest’ undertaken when she felt the balance between her spirituality and her scientific mind was uneven and that she had lost her sense of self.
As I'm a sceptic of all things spiritual, I was initially put off by her talk of Shamanism and spirit guides, but her endearing personality and enthusiasm for what she does completely won me over. Scott also has a delightfully rebellious streak which shone through. She couldn't hold back a cheeky grin when admitting that she announced her change from crime to historical fiction in front of her former publisher “to piss her off”.
This isn’t to say that it’s all fun and games in the life of Manda Scott. She spoke of the hours spent following obscure research trails: learning battle techniques; a night spent in a roundhouse; and learning to make a sword. She then explained the ‘iceberg principal’ that the reader never sees or should see the depths of research undertaken, and I think that's the main point I took away.
All in all, an informative and fun event.
- Hannah Maggs