The Virginia G. Piper
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Judith Starkston

Writing Historical Fiction with Judith Starkston

Date(s): Thursdays, April 2 - 16, 2020, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281 (view map)
Craft Class, Generative Workshop, Workshop
Genre and Form(s): Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Mystery, Research
Cost: $149 Regular, $119 Student

About the Class

Writing historical fiction requires an additional set of skills along with the essential tools of all fiction writers. This course will drill down into the specific artistry of historical fiction and its subgenres (such as historical fantasy, historical mystery, time-slip). A good writing class helps students integrate new skills into their own practice. We will reach that goal both by dissecting models (outstanding and problematic) and by generating/reworking passages of students’ manuscripts. Topics will include: balancing accuracy and storytelling, building historical worlds with powerful emotional effect, using primary documents for rich scenes, developing immersive setting without overburdening the story, creating engagement and believability with historical details, and composing convincing dialogue from the past.

Meet Your Instructor

Photograph of Judith Starkston

Judith Starkston writes historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age world of Hittites and Greeks. She holds degrees in Classics, from University of California, Santa Cruz (BA) and Cornell University (MA). She taught high-school English, Latin and humanities. Her debut novel, Hand of Fire, was a semi-finalist for the prestigious M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Her second novel, Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award. She is represented by Richard Curtis.

A Statement from the Piper Center about COVID-19

In an effort to reduce the spread of germs, this event will be ‘touch free,’ meaning that all authors, faculty, students, and other participants should avoid shaking hands, hugging, taking selfies, or otherwise engaging in physical contact. Additionally, we are encouraging all community members to wash their hands, avoid touch their face, use hand sanitizer, and otherwise follow the official guidelines from the Center for Disease Control. If you are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of a virus, please stay home and seek medical treatment as necessary. Any individuals who are unable to attend due to illness will have refunds issued in full. While we are unable to provide livestreaming or other forms of remote access for this event, we are actively working to ensure this in the future. If you have any questions, please contact the Piper Center accordingly. To learn more, read our full statement on COVID-19 at

About the Piper Writers Studio

The Piper Writers Studio is committed to supporting writers in every stage of their development by providing challenging, diverse, and accessible educational opportunities. All classes are not-for-credit, and are intended for an open to the public. You do not need to be an ASU student to attend. Writers of all backgrounds, genres, and experience levels are welcome. Discounts for students, senior citizens, individuals experiencing economic challenges, and other groups are available for every class. To learn more about the Piper Writer Studio, visit our website at