For me, the advantage of factually based drama is that there is no fruitless, unnecessary invention. You choose your subject (or it chooses you) and tell the story as best you can. With a fiction –it's the nature of the beast - you get side tracked (for weeks, months, years) as characters come to terms with more or less plausible events – you may have some dim outline or end in view, which you may then lose sight of at times, like the view of the Pyrenees from one of the houses where I stay. With a historical drama there is a broad structure and finished conclusions. The moral choices offered to individual characters, however, are much the same. Ideally, you will - as in a fiction – be showing particular individuals experiencing universal emotions. And – big selling point for me - it actually happened… Much of the work with historical drama is in the background 'detail'. If you are pushing back beyond living memory this can only come from reading. I make many notes, researching as widely as I can without imagining that I am writing a PhD thesis ('It's only a film, Miss Novak.'), jotting down the odd vivid phrase, or maybe off beat incident that might just come in. During early preparation for the Montaigne play, 'Living with Princes', a history of mediaeval Paris was staring at me from someone's shelves; 'Can I borrow this?' I said. In it, I came across an account of a penitential procession in which the King of France took part, monks flagellating him publicly. It went straight into the script. I noted in the same book that the Protestant district of Paris at that time was known as 'Little Geneva'. You get that in. But only so much. The dramatist is relieved of the mountains of research the historical novelist has to accumulate. Audio drama gets its effects from the occasional well placed fillip of detail. I don't need to pause and look round descriptively. You have to think what a character might be wearing or if he carries a sword, say, but – unless it's relevant – you don't (mercifully) have to detail that. I sometimes get things wrong. In an early play about a mysterious early Renaissance painting, 'Selling Immortality,' I referred to the unknown painter using a dab of cobalt blue. I have a good friend - a monk - who liked this play so much that, when it was repeated, he taped it to listen again occasionally. He said to me :'I liked that detail about the cobalt blue.' A few years after the play was broadcast, while reading about the painter Vermeer, I realised I was about a couple of hundred years out with painters' use of cobalt blue and told my friend of this howler. 'Oh, dear,' he said, 'but, you see, it did the trick for me.' Well, maybe it's all trickery. I get my notes – pages of them finally – into rough story order and then record them on a dictaphone. There may be four or five 90 minute tapes. I listen to the dictaphone, often first thing in a morning, mind fresh, while still in bed – having nothing better to do in bed these days - till I've more or less learnt the material. Scraps of dialogue start to emerge during this process, the structure of the piece solidifies (though this may shift again in the writing) and – if you're using the characters' letters (as lately with Henry James and Edith Wharton) you start mimicking the speaking voice. You don't need to be exact. You're looking for dialogue that's - above all - actable with touches of the original speaker's voice. Henry James famously spoke in so distinctive, seemingly hesitant and roundabout a way that there was a danger the drama would come to a near halt once he began, stutteringly, to get going – if he got going at all. You suggest his indirectness, allow him the odd circumlocution, let him to trail off more than usual. What became clear during the preparation for the latest play - called 'The Jinx Element' (a phrase of Henry James) - was that this would be a tale told by Henry about his friend Edith Wharton. I'd noticed that though all James' novels are third person, he allowed himself the first person approach in his short stories. I read a number (they are his most personal) and scribbled down little linking bits of narration. Some of these I adapted – so Henry's unmistakeable narrative voice threads the piece. I'm ventriloquising. The Edith Wharton play is well on its way. Next it's events after the death of Caravaggio in early Seventeenth Century Naples. I sometimes feel a bit of a tart or flibbertigibbet, dancing round the centuries, but – as I once said to a bank manager during the bad times – 'it's what makes you want to get out of bed in a morning' (having listened to the dictaphone first, of course….).