The thing I’ve noticed since I started seriously writing this book, is the amount of procrastination I find myself doing. Most of the time it’s the little things, really. Like I’ll say “I’ll celebrate by catching up on Game of Thrones once I’ve written x number of words” or, “An hour of video gaming won’t hurt”. But then sometimes I find myself sitting there procrastinating by thinking about much bigger things – like the big mess that was the EU referendum, or what it actually was that made me sit down and start my little project on Cesare Borgia. Which is precisely what I’m doing right now.
What was it that made me sit down, open up that word document and start typing what is steadily turning into my very first attempt at an academic book?
I could very easily sit here and type out a whole bunch of information about how I first got into history, and try and make out that it was that original love that had me working on this book right now. But that wouldn’t be quite true. Whilst, since studying history at A-Level and archaeology at Degree level I’ve wanted to sit down and write a book, it didn’t become a reality until about a year ago. And the answer to that is simple – I’d seen other people that I know get their work published, I’d long followed historians on social media who had their work out in the public domain.
And I thought “I can do this as well.”
From friends to well known historians who have been a part of my life studying history, there are many who have inspired me in my endeavours. I can clearly remember being at school studying both GCSE and A-Level history and having the work of historians like David Starkey and Simon Schama shoved at me. It’s strange to think about it now, but when I was studying the Tudors at GCSE level, I absolutely loathed Starkey – I found his work dry and incredibly boring. Perhaps it was because it was literally forced on me. These days, though? I’ll happily sit down and watch a Starkey documentary and I thoroughly enjoy his books. The man has a passion for Tudor history that has lasted for decades, and although there are many out there who think he’s losing the plot, I adore the guy.
More recently, I’ve found myself reading a lot of Mary Beard’s work. I first watched her Pompeii documentary and found her absolute passion for Ancient Roman history to be wonderful. And catching! She always seems to be so excited when talking about Rome, and that excitement shines through into her books. As we speak, I’m reading SPQR and I’m totally hooked – Mary Beard makes Ancient Rome so much more approachable than I found it to be whilst at University. The woman gets a lot of flack online for her looks and the comments that she makes on various issues, but you know what? I love the way she handles it. She takes the hate she gets with grace, she laughs it off and when she does come back at the haters she does it in a way that I only wish I could do. In my eyes, she’s a woman with utter style. And she’s completely fierce.
Of the younger generation of historians, I’ve found myself drawn towards the work of Dan Jones and Suzannah Lipscomb. Both of them have shown that history doesn’t have to be the domain of the tweet jacketed older men – they make history exciting, sharing their love of the past not only with exceptionally well written books but on television and via social media as well. Plus, the fact that Dan Jones is a respected historian with tattoos? Well, it gives me a bit of hope for my future as a tattooed historian.
As well as those historians in the public eye, I have to say that I have friends who have inspired me greatly. Some of them are published historians, some not. But each and every one of them have pushed me towards sitting down and writing my own book. The lovely Madame Guillotine was one of the first bloggers I came across when I started this blog and she was so welcoming. I’ve followed her writing career ever since, and not only are her fiction novels excellent but I’m so excited to start reading her biography of Marie Antoinette. Melanie has to be one of my biggest inspirations – following her career really made me want to sit down and start writing myself. And for that, I can never thank her enough. Another historian friend who deserves a mention is the lovely Mathew Lyons, author of The Favourite and Andrea Zuvich who writes the wonderful Seventeenth Century Lady blog and author of a number of books on the Stuarts.
But I wouldn’t have even considered sitting down to write my Cesare Borgia book without having known Hasan Niyazi. Hasan was a very dear friend of mine whose blog, three pipe problem, I stumbled across completely by accident. A simple email asking if I could add a link to my blog began a friendship that involved almost daily myth busting on the Borgia family and a shared love of Renaissance art and history. Hasan sadly died at the age of just 37 after a sudden epileptic seizure, and his death hit me hard. I was in Salisbury when I found out and I can remember sitting outside the Cathedral in floods of tears. Hasan inspired me to write more about the myths that surround that Borgia family, and to share the truth about them. Without his friendship I doubt very much I’d have even started writing this book, so I owe him a hell of a lot.
Every book has a story behind it, every book has its inspirations. And I just want to extend a massive thank you to all those who have encouraged me in the writing of my own project. I couldn’t have done it without you.