It was Carol Cram’s dream to become a novelist.
Since retiring from teaching at Capilano University in 2009, she’s already published a trio of loosely related historical novels and suggests she has five more on the way.
“I have to make up a little bit for lost time, right?” she said.
Her first three books concern the history of women in the arts. Her 2014 debut, The Towers of Tuscany, follows a fictitious female painter in 14th century Tuscany, while 2015’s A Woman of Note centres on a composer in 19th century Vienna.
“I just find it fascinating what a huge contribution women artists have made over the centuries and so I want to kind of talk about that and about the history and a lot of people don’t know,” Cram said.
Her latest book, The Muse of Fire, was just published last month and tells the story of an actress in England in the early 1800s and is partly inspired by a masters thesis Cram wrote in the University of Toronto’s drama program.
“What I found really fascinating when I started going to the theatre for the latest book, was how really that was one of the only places that a woman at that period could actually have wealth that’s not inherited wealth, that could make money on her own, was in entertainment. In the theatre,” she said.
“And in a way, things haven’t really changed.”
Cram, who hasn’t toured widely since the release of The Towers of Tuscany, has now returned to the road to give presentations on her trilogy as a whole and to discuss not only the books, but historical writing in general and the experience of taking up a new career later in life. She will be at the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library on Feb. 26.
“I had never thought that I would be an author of historical fiction. I thought you needed to be an historian to do that and although my background is academic I’m not an historian but I consult with a lot of experts and make sure I get the history right,” she said.
“And I realized that research is great, but it’s not really the hardest part about writing. The hardest part is getting the story right and that’s something I try to do as a novelist.”
WHAT’S ON … Bowen Island author Carol Cram reads from The Muse of Fire at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library on Monday, Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m.