Have you noticed that the word “story” takes up most of the space within “history”?
When I write historical fiction, my first task is to unearth the story that’s hidden in history. Sometimes it takes months or even years of research for the plot to reveal itself. But each newspaper article, diary entry, or government document has potential for suggesting an important event in my story.
Research is as simple as finding a government document on the web, as cool as dipping into a historic swimming pool, or as exotic as a trip to Hawaii. Often it involves hours in front of a microfilm machine reading old newspapers, or sitting in an archive poring over handwitten letters. Archives can be dusty, barely organized closets of materials, or lovely spaces with oriental rugs and lots of oak furniture. I’m always astonished when librarians and archivists allow me into their space. It amazes me that they will leave me alone with rare documents and fascinating artifacts.
My favorite form of research is interviewing experts - people who know things about the subject I’m writing on. Physical therapists, antique car dealers, botanists, doctors, people who had polio, and my own parents have been just a few of the experts I’ve called on.
I have a marvelous editor, (Carolyn Yoder) who taught me to write about history. She’s a stickler for accuracy in every detail! I love that about her.
Check out a few other titles edited by Carolyn Yoder