Midwest Literary Walk Author’s New Book Explores Colonial Kenya in the 1920s

Paula McLain talks about her works of historical fiction.

This Saturday, the city of Chelsea will hold its Annual Midwest Literary Walk, which features five authors reading their work and meeting with readers. Sandra Svoboda speaks with Literary Walk participating author Paula McLain, (author of “The Paris Wife”), about her new book, “Circling the Sun.”  

“The Paris Wife,” is set in Paris in the jazz age, and features a strong female lead. McLain says it was a new type of project for her. 

“I had never done research before. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just sort of plunged in heart first,” she says. 

Even though the book is set in Paris, McLain says, “I had never been to Paris before. I wrote the book in a Starbucks in Cleveland. And that was some of the romance — I was falling into [the 1920s] time period.”

Her new book, “Circling the Sun,” is set in colonial Kenya in the 1920s.  Writing historical fiction offers a unique perspective, and McLain says,  “There’s a bad rap that historical fiction has. That’s sort of like ‘history lite’ or ‘soft history.’ But if it’s really done well, and quite seriously… then what you have instead is history super-focused, or super-specific.”  McLain is convinced, “we love history, but we love it from a particular vantage point…[we like it] made intimate, dramatized, illuminated, and personal.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio link above.