Q&A with Historian Susan Abernethy: The Freelance History Writer

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History is incredibly vast and interesting. That’s why I’ve decided to start Crusades and Crusaders the blog. Okay, I admit, I’m most interested in the Middle Ages, particularly the Crusades. Ever since I watched Kingdom of Heaven in 2005, I’ve wanted to learn more about the Crusades and about the people who played a major role in these wars for the Holy Land.

Since I started Crusades and Crusaders I have utilized Facebook and Reddit to reach out to other lovers of Medieval History. In my search for new readers and new connections, I found Susan Abernethy’s Facebook page, Medieval History Lovers. Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to know Abernethy a little bit more, enough to know we have two things in common: We hold a BA degree in History and we both share a passion for History. Abernethy is also the author of The Freelance History Writer blog. Given that, I contacted Abernethy and inquired about doing an interview with her.

Her answers are as follows.

What inspired you to start The Freelance History Writer?

susan abernethy
Historian Susan Abernethy

It seems I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love history. As a teenager, I watched “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” on TV and was enthralled. Truth seemed much stranger than fiction. I started reading everything I could about King Henry, fiction and non-fiction and then branched out to other types of history. This even led me to study history in college. Even though I never did anything with the history degree, it’s always been a hobby of mine.

I came to writing about history just in the past year. A friend of mine was looking for someone to write with her on her women’s history blog, Saints, Sisters and Sluts. While working on a piece about Margaret Roper, daughter of Sir Thomas More, I remembered what a fascinating person Thomas More was and decided I wanted to write about him. So I started The Freelance History Writer. I wanted to allow myself a lot of leeway, so the blog encompasses history from ancient times to mid-twentieth century. This way I can write about anything history related that inspires me.

What era of History do you love the most and why?

That’s easy: Medieval History. Partly because of King Henry VIII and partly because of my own personal ancestry. I’ve concentrated on English history from the time the Romans left to the High Middle Ages and beyond really. But there’s something mysterious, brutal and spiritual about the medieval era. And I know I’m not the only one who likes this era because I get tons of feedback on the blog from other medieval history lovers.

Do you think everyone in North America should learn more about World History?

Yes, Deanna! Everyone in North America should learn history. It’s the reason I wanted to write about history. If I can spark someone to read a book, blog post or article about history, I feel I’ve done my job. There are so many lessons to learn from history. History also explains many things about our world today. Just as an example, Henry VIII’s love for Anne Boleyn caused him to break with the Catholic Church of Rome and start the Episcopal Church in England.

What tips can you provide writers who aspire to write about history, whether it’s fiction or non?

Good question, Deanna! First of all, do your research. Whether you like what occurred in history or not, it’s what happened. I find it helpful to not bring a lot of my own personal prejudices to the story. Stay true to the record. If there’s not a lot of historical evidence for what you are writing, state that. And if there is a lot on record for what you are writing, read all accounts and find your perspective for the story, your own voice. I try to do this when I write about historical women by just telling the story from their point of view.

Your blog, The Freelance History Writer, has exceeded 15,000 views within the space of one year. What tips to you offer new/aspiring bloggers in terms of self- promotion?

I’d like to indulge in what I call “shameless self-promotion”! Facebook and Twitter are the starting point. I’ve also started to have a presence on Tumblr, Linked-In, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, etc. Post your articles on these sites at reasonable intervals so you don’t spam people. There are some wonderful history groups on Facebook. I’ve made some great friends there. Find groups that are a target audience for your writing. I have two history pages of my own, Medieval History Lovers and The Freelance History Writer that I work on every day, posting about history with articles and photos as well as my own writing.

Also, there have been some writers who have helped me promote my blog so I try to do the same thing. Re-Tweeting other’s work on Twitter and posting other’s work on Facebook history pages really helps. I’ve also found some history forums and websites where I post my articles as well. The more you spread the word about your work, the more views you will get.

There’s something mysterious, brutal and spiritual about the medieval era

Where can readers find and learn more about you?

On Facebook: The Freelance History Writer and Medieval History Lovers.

@SusanAbernethy2 on Twitter

The Freelance History Writer