Writers cannot escape the past. Whether they are novelists, speechwriters, scriptwriters, biographers or historians, writers, like everyone else, draw constantly on the past in both the practice of everyday life and in doing their creative work. They operate in sensory landscapes which stimulate embodied and situated knowledge. Memories can be evoked by sound, smell, touch, sight and taste through objects, places and rituals. We are all permanently living the past in the present. But the past is not history. History is an ensemble of practices that use the past to make meaning today.
This book brings together sixteen well-known writers from diverse backgrounds: Debra Adelaide, Paul Ashton, Anna Clark, Robert Crawford, John Dale, Ross Gibson, Bridget Griffen-Foley, Lucinda Holdforth, Julia Horne, Paul Kiem, John Maynard, Betty O’Neill, Penny Russell, Janis Wilton, Garry Wotherspoon and Clare Wright. It looks at how history – a discipline which generally strives for critical distance – and the past – a concept which is open-ended and useful in the present – are used in a range of genres from historical and ‘true crime’ novels to family history and memoir.