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Shelf life: GILES MILTON

The historian and novelist shares his five favourite reads with Judith Spelman
© Geraint Lewis/Writer Pictures

Giles Milton is a historian who writes intriguing books with titles to match. His second book, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, a lively account of the desperate struggles between the English and the Dutch to control the supply of nutmeg in the early 17th century, brought him to the wider reading public’s attention. Seven more successful, historical books and three novels later, he presents us with the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, a book about the mavericks who plotted the downfall of Adolf Hitler. It is a fascinating book, gripping the reader from the very first chapter. He researches very thoroughly from a wide variety of sources but what makes his books so readable is his lightness of touch and the way he brings his characters to life.

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Make this the month you make your dreams real and start becoming a writer in the Get Serious issue, with advice on: • How a change of attitude will help you, and the wider world, take your writing seriously • How to stay motivated past the difficult mid-novel slump • Money matters: Are you charging enough for your freelance writing? PLUS How to make sense of your royalty statements Cover star Jake Arnott tells us about finding the stories and characters that society overlooks and we explore the style and technique of forensic crime superstar Patricia Cornwell Get your work out there with opportunities to get published and competitions with more than £60,000 total prize money in 20 packed pages of Writers' News. All this plus our definitive guide to writing festivals, courses and other events for 2017