Welcome to our first episode of 2024. Yes, the title’s a quote from our incredible guest.

As a podcast dedicated primarily to speculative fiction, we rarely find ourselves taking a deep dive into history. But the growth in popularity of both myths and retellings is bringing with it a new focus on historical periods, and the culture that defines them. While some books offer mere outlines – nods to authenticity – others are meticulously researched, immersing readers in eras that can seem just as strange to a contemporary audience as a fantasy realm.

When the era you’re recreating is early 7th century Britain, facts are thin on the ground – especially the kind of facts essential to evoking an authentic atmosphere. In this episode, we were lucky enough to speak to Nicola Griffith, the award-winning author of Hild and Menewood, a series of novels that explore the life of Saint Hilda of Whitby, who was, among many other things, an important figure in the early Christian church.

We loved talking to Nicola about Hild herself, this little-known period in history, and how she brought both to life through her meticulous attention to character, landscape and language.

Nicola Griffith is the author of nine novels, including Hild, Spear, and Menewood. In addition to her fiction and nonfiction (New York Times, Guardian, Nature, New Scientist) she is known for her data-driven 2015 work on bias in the literary ecosystem and as founder and co-host, with Alice Wong, of #CripLit.

Awards include the Los Angeles Times Ray Bradbury Prize, Society of Authors ADCI Literary Prize, two Washington State Book Awards, the Premio Italia, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Otherwise/Tiptree awards, and six Lambda Literary Awards. She holds a PhD from Anglia Ruskin University, is married to writer Kelley Eskridge, and lives in Seattle.