The best part of writing historical fiction is the happy accidents that always, always arise. At the start, the work of bringing the past alive begins with world-building—who was there and where did they live and how did they dress and what was on the table. In Whitehall, that world is the Restoration, and it’s a juicy era no matter what angle you examine it from.
From the Writers’ Room is a regular feature where we invite the writer behind the most recent serial episode to give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at just what went into this week’s installment.
Content From This Feature
When the writing team got together for our second Bookburners story summit, we knew that one of the most important questions we had to answer was: How is Season 2 different than Season 1?
The surprising pleasures of writing this episode lay in realizing how little I had to stray from the truth, from actual experiences I’d had at academic conferences, to make “Mistakes Were Made” work. The harried and overburdened staff. The presenter who realizes slowly, during the presentation, that his work isn’t even all that interesting to his peers and possibly himself. The resolute eccentric who does amazing work but has deep-sixed his own career because he couldn’t care less about his discipline’s politics. I’d already met them all.
When I read through the first season of Bookburners, one thing in particular captured my imagination and wouldn't let go again: Team Four. There was just enough information in that season to be sure there was a big story lurking between the lines, but not enough to guess what exactly had happened. What exactly did Team Four do? Why had the Vatican turned against using magic to fight magic? Most of all, what was behind that door?
Team Three’s still keeping the world safe from monsters. But, can Team Three get out ahead of the monsters? Can they stop putting out fires, and start fireproofing?
We read historical fiction at least in part to feel as if we’re time traveling—to feel that we’re experiencing a little of what it could be like to have -been- then. So we want to trust that we’re reading something with some accuracy. But story-telling requires some leeway.
This is the damnedest writing method I've ever encountered. At several points as I wrote and polished Episode 4 I sort of thought I couldn't do it. TV writers work like this all the time? Insane. And yet I did. This is How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collaboration.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stonger
Probably the single most frustrating thing about writing Episode 2, was how much I had history I had to leave out to make it fit into the plot.
A conversation of history, inspiration, and collaborating on the first episode of WHITEHALL.
Lindsay Smith and Max Gladstone on writing The Witch Who Came In From The Cold – Ep 13: “Company Time”
Magic and fiction are similar in many ways, but one of them is symmetry. We like our stories to rhyme.
Cassandra Rose Clarke on writing The Witch Who Came In From The Cold – Episode 12: “She’ll Lie Down In The Snow”
One of the biggest challenges about writing for Cold Witch is also one of its biggest joys, and that’s the collaborative nature of the project.