When you were a kid did you love history?
If you were like me you nodded off in history class. I found it so boring! Now that I’m much older I love history, but because I didn’t pay attention in class I’m often embarrassed at my lack of knowledge about the World War I era, or the early 1900’s, or any other part of history.
Today I love to read historical fiction because I learn about different time periods in characters’ lives. The latest historical fiction novel I read was Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Invention of Wings. (I highly recommend it. What a masterpiece!) I learned about a woman I never knew existed–a woman in American history who struggled for liberation, empowerment, and expression of women’s rights.
Author Tracy Higley writes historical fiction about different parts of the world too. At the Montrose Writer’s Conference she shared an idea that helps her. She reads upper elementary historical fiction or nonfiction to incite ideas. Isn’t that a great idea? She claims that these books include the high points of the era and often show pictures, which help to spur her creativity.
Once Tracy has a grasp of the time period she’s working on, she reads high school and college level text books next. She makes a binder, collects pictures–even wedding photos from that era, and calls the binder her Bible of research for that book.
This is such a simple idea, but one that could have an outstanding overall affect on the final novel.
I love this idea and plan on reading elementary books in the children’s section of the library soon–just to learn. I have a lot of history to catch up on. Maybe it’ll spur a novel idea too!
Do you write historical fiction, and if so, how do you research the era?