Just in time for the upcoming premier of Vikings on the History Channel, Michael Hirst, the show’s writer and producer, talks about his writing process in the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do? series.

“The key for me with historical characters is they’re interesting because they’re human beings,” he said. “A little bit of Hemingway goes a long way here, but journalists and writers should honestly look at their material and have a real interest, a real passion in what they want to write, and they should also have a lot of knowledge, as well. You don’t write police procedural stuff unless you really know that beat, but it’s ultimately not the procedure that makes the show work — it’s the people. The more real they are, the better.”

Read more in So What Do You Do, Michael Hirst, Creator of The Tudors and Vikings?