Thursday, August 25, 2016

Historical Fiction: The First Wave

My next book—the one after Redemption—is historical fiction. Not historical fantasy like Aurelia and Robert’s series. But genuine HF.

This means the research has to be more real. (In other words, I can’t cheat).

Don’t get me wrong. I do a lot of research for Aurelia and Robert’s novels. And it’s a blast. Scimitars. Loading rifles. Battle plans. Eighteenth century furniture, torture devices, high-heeled shoes. I get to use all kinds of crazy historical details within Aurelia and Robert’s books.

But for my upcoming novel, I knew I needed to kick the research level into a whole other gear.

This meant a LOT of reading. Starting off with some general topics: the Oregon Trail, pioneer women, school teaching in the Pacific Northwest, Native American tribes in Eastern Oregon, homesteading. I got to read some fiction and some great non-fiction. I also got to read some really lousy non-fiction. And some stuff written by people who definitely don’t know how to write. At least not at a professional level.

But some of that lousy stuff—it was the best. Because it was the most specific to the locale and the era I was researching, southern Gilliam County in the Columbia Basin at the turn of the century. And it’s great to know that’s all you can get because it means there’s definitely room for a novel in this setting. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I want to write about it. Because no one else has.

So, as I was saying, that was a lot of reading.

Most of which . . . won’t get into my book.

Because I had to pick a specific date, or series of dates: September 1904-1905. Ding, ding, ding!

My major achievement after a month of reading.

Once I had done that, I could actually write the whole first draft of the book.

And then launch into the second wave of research.