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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Writing In The Margins of History

“I always try to find a story in the margins of history, but I don't like to do too much that's improbable.” – Philip Kerr

A native of Scotland, Kerr  was best known for the "Bernie Gunther" series of historical thrillers set primarily in Germany during the 1930s, World War II and the Cold War.  He authored some 50 books, including several nonfiction works and a dozen children's books with the Children of the Lamp series, under the name P.B. Kerr.  

Born on this date in 1956 (he died in 2018), Kerr started writing in Middle school and really never stopped.  In the early 1990s he was honored as one of Britain’s “Best Young Writers,” and in 2009 he won both the “RBA International Prize for Crime Writing” (worth nearly $200 thousand in cash) and the British Crime Writers' Association's “Ellis Peters Historic Crime Writing Award.”

He resided near Wimbledon and was a frequent essay contributor to The Sunday Times and The Evening Standard, although it was his writing “about the recent historical past,” that was his forte'. 

Kerr had this to say about writing historical fiction:   
“History asks us to imagine ourselves in a period, but it's a very different situation when you're in that period and faced with those situations. The hardest thing is to write about people. First and foremost, you have to encounter their humanity. That is the only way you can make them live as characters on the page.”

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