What sort of person writes fiction about the past? It is helpful to be acquainted with violence, because the past is violent. It is necessary to understand that the people who live there are not the same as people now. It is necessary to understand that the dead are real, and have power over the living. It is helpful to have encountered the dead firsthand, in the form of ghosts.
At the beginning of their work together, [Christopher] Hibbert gave him a piece of advice he never forgot. “You must never write history,” he said, “until you can hear the people speak.”