BackStory: Four Questions with Diane E Tatlock

Beer Quarry Caves

BackStory: Four Questions with Diane E Tatlock
Author of Hidden in Darkness

What inspired you to write ‘Hidden in Darkness’?

This piece was inspired by a visit to the caves at Beer Stone Quarry in Devon. I had to overcome claustrophobia to go into the huge dark underground workings which no longer function as a mine but as an exhibition open for guided tours.

Who are your favourite historical fiction writers and why?

My favourite historical fiction writers are Mary Renault, because I have always been fascinated by the Ancient Greeks since learning Greek at school, and Dorothy Dunnett. I love the latter’s writing for it’s authenticity, intrigue and passion and I particularly enjoy her series about the House of Niccolo based in Fifteenth Century Europe.

How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?

Research for my piece began during my visit as I retraced the steps and working conditions of the mine workers. I discovered, and was fascinated and horrified by, the class differences between the quarrymen (workers), the masons (skilled workers) and the owners, which highlighted the perceived different life values of each. When the 48 men were killed in the explosion all the owner asked was ‘Were any horses killed’. The death of horses meant that the stone quarried could not be transported.

What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of writing historical flash?

What I enjoy most about writing flash fiction is the discipline and the need to manipulate vocabulary so that every word is vital and carries that importance into the whole story. I relish the rhythm that the words can thus bring to the final piece.

Diane E Tatlock has a longstanding love of words and the English language. Upon retirement from a teaching career she studied with the OU and became interested in writing short stories and, in particular, flash fiction. Some success in entering competitions has maintained this interest and she does this for fun. She lives in Wiltshire with her husband.

Image of Beer Quarry Caves, cc-by-sa/2.0 © John Scott via  (Image has been cropped.)