Ronald Frame & Maurice Leitch
How do writers paint convincing pictures of people from the past - and how do they choose them? Ronald Frame and Maurice Leitch were unanimous in their disarming honesty: as little is known about them, they're there for the taking.
Havisham, Frame's novel about the imagined back story of the jilted Dickens character, has her retreating from society as a rather convincing result of her father's prolonged grieving for her mother, and as a victim of others' manipulation; in Seeking Mr Hare, Leitch chose to conjure the life of the body-snatcher after he was set free following the execution of his accomplice William Burke.
He doesn't sound very nice. Why choose such unattractive characters? For writers, mostly outsiders themselves, such companions make the journey more enjoyable.
Kate Mosse's description of how she went about constructing Citadel, the last of her Languedoc trilogy and the one she declares herself most proud of, was almost explosive; such was the astonishing passion with which she cheerfully divulged her literary modus operandi.
In the medieval city of Carcassonne in south-west France, where she's had a house for 25 years, she noticed that in the modern quarter all the streets are named after local resistance fighters of the Second World War - but that, unusually, their death dates are all exactly the same. So she decided to find out what happened on August 19, 1944, noting that two unknown women were among those rounded up by the authorities to have grenades blown up in their mouths.
Characteristically, it is the lives of these unknown women of the Carcassonne Resistance Unit that she chose to imagine.
Mosse fervently believes the human heart does not change very much through time.
I am guessing Jonathan Jones would agree with that. His provocative discourse on The Loves (and opposed to Vasari's The Lives) of the (all-male) Artists of the Renaissance was punctuated throughout with boyish giggles as he unveiled a series of nude paintings that proved certain well-known artists of the period were gay.
Caravaggio, of course, but also Da Vinci, Titian, Donatello and Michaelangelo were among them, while loving portraits of women by Raphael, Reubens and Rembrandt showed those artists were definitely het. Uniting them was the ability to express love through art, he said.