Christine Wade spoke at the third PEN conference of 2015 on Jan 27th.
Revolutions are fought, constitutions are crafted, countries are founded, and Christine’s fascinating talk tries to answer important questions: who wins? whose history do we remember and study today?
Not ordinary folks, not women, not the indigenous, not the enslaved, not the poor. So how can we know the stories of those who don’t win?
Drawing examples from American history and beyond, Christine Wade explains why these stories are important and how she managed to discover and research untold stories to write her book Seven Locks.
Historical fiction can tell the forgotten truths of the disenfranchised – those of ordinary people who struggle for autonomy in a violent world and whose lives implode as they are seduced to take sides, even as they gain nothing.
Fiction can be a powerful vehicle for reexamining what we were never taught in school and what is not emphasized in the historical record. Reinterpretations of our past can profoundly inform our present understanding of, and struggle for, equitable protections of human rights.
Christine Wade’s Seven Locks: A Novel (Atria Books, Simon & Schuster 2013) ignores the founding fathers, and instead of dwelling directly on the events of July 4, 1776 and their aftermath, delves deeply into the mind and circumstance of one woman who lives on the American frontier at the end of the 18th Century. Seven Locks is a tactile evocation of life and times in the historical Hudson River Valley where the lines between myth and reality fade in the wilderness beyond the small towns, while an American nation struggles to emerge.
During her talk, Christine Wade spoke about the inspiration behind Seven Locks – which starts with a proverb in each chapter – and the books which helped her develop her own novel. Christine said that writing Seven Locks was like a gift she made to herself… and we think it’s definitely a gift for all of us!
Christine Wade is a researcher and writer who fell in love with the Hudson River when she attended Bard College; she has lived on its shores in New York City and the Catskill Mountains ever since.
Seven Locks, her first novel, won a James Jones Fellowship Award for an unpublished novel in 2009, received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Langum Prize for Historical Fiction which recognizes both excellent literature and excellent history, and was named the Best Historical Fiction of 2013 by USA BOOK News.
Wade’s talk was the third in the 2015 PEN programs chosen to further PEN International’s mission – promoting freedom of expression around the world. The local center, San Miguel PEN, raises money with the series for endangered writers around the world and local projects promoting literacy.