To travel in history

Guest blog by authors Ted Hesselbom and Anna Lihammer

Uggla finalAt last I am here in the land of the Sweons and Geats!” Chester exclaimed and clutched the white-painted bulwark so hard his hands hurt.

The gangplank slowly came into place in front of his feet, soon secured with chains and ropes. The rusty metal and the salt stale ropes whined. Long before the gangplank was secured Chester was on his way. The heels of his shoes smattered at the thick planks when he ran…

Your heart pounds hard! You are in a hurry and yet up for adventure! You are on your way into something unknown!

Chester from our book ”Med dig vågar jag allt” is eager to start his new life far away from home. He has travelled dangerous seas to escape Victorian England. Now convinced that he has it all planned, his life becomes something entirely different from what he anticipated. Travelling works in the same way – however well you plan your travels you never know exactly what will happen and maybe that is a part of the thrill?

We write historical fiction together. Through our writing process we travel in history and maybe, to some extent, history travels with us. History was the reason we started writing together. On a hot summer evening – in a bar in a museum – we started talking about history.


We talked about why history is almost always portrayed as a place where everybody is more or less the same. Where people think, live and act the same way if they are living in the same century or epoque. There and then we decided to do something different. To try to make history come alive, to write about less stereotypical individuals doing the unexpected and differing from each other.

Humans are not always rational. They do stupid things they regret or heroic things that they didn’t expect to do. They love, cheat, lie and have sex, they might be jealous, dramatic, stoic or happy. In short, in the past as well as today, people are heterogeneous and individualistic and that is the sort of histories we write.

Making people come alive in different ages and circumstances is a way of travelling too. It takes meticulous research which expands our understanding of past lives in the epochs we write about. But the research also makes us humble and very curious. The more you read the more you discover and behind what seems known and ordinary you might find the unexpected.

History may seem safe and unchangeable. But if you poke at it, and take a look at what hides underneath, it becomes just as exciting, unexpected and changeable as a trip can be. Anything might happen!