Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
The theme is still the same: illuminating history. I’m now working on historical fiction inspired by a portrait of a young girl painted in 1861. Titled Women Absent Men, my novel is based on real people and actual events, but I am relying even more on my imagination to develop the characters and provide a satisfying plot.
Historical fiction, of course, requires as much research as non-fiction. I have drawn on every resource I discovered while researching my first book to determine what technology, what modes of transportation, what forms of medical treatment, what forms of entertainment, what fashions, what major world and local events were current in each period my story covers. Even if you are making up most of the story, the background texture must be authentic. I have, in fact, chronicled much of my progress on this new project in blog posts over the past eight months.
The website still features tools for exploring aspects of the research process. On the following pages, links to relevant websites are highlighted in bright blue; just click to open in a new tab. And, as before, click on any image to see a larger version.
The section “Outside edges and corner pieces” includes:
Would you guess–by looking at this photograph–that John Henry Bailey, Jr., ran a locomotive for the US Military Railroad during the Civil War? Neither would I, but it’s true.
How do I know? John saved dozens of letters from family members, friends, and railroad associates, 1861 playbills from three Toronto theaters, a couple of Civil War commendations, copies of Proceedings from annual meetings of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and a few newspaper clippings.
And, as also noted in blog posts, my micro-memoir Learning Chutzpah won 2nd prize for non-fiction in the 2013 Willamette Writer contest. It was also published in two parts in VoiceCatcher (and part II). Two different versions of a piece related directly to the theme of this website–Finding Family Stories=Data + Conjecture–were published in February and March. One appeared in VoiceCatcher, the other in AntiqueTrader, both the on-line and the print edition of the magazine.