Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Why I Write About The Past

“One night, while the Earl of Sandwich was playing cards, he got hungry...” So began another dinnertime tale about people to whom my father swore we were related. With every story Dad wove through our meals, he instilled a love of history. But Dad wasn’t the only one. My grandfather delighted in gathering his grandchildren around him and telling us about his life; how, on the night he was born, snow came through the cracks of a one room log cabin, why he never got further in school than third grade, although by all standards he was a very successful man.

Mother also had stories to tell. Her contributions centered about dishes and knicknacks from relatives who journeyed to the USA, from Germany, Holland, even Spain. Each piece had some account connected to it. I loved the one about the purchased Spanish bride.

The ideas for my stories all center about events in the past. I have a sneaky feeling it’s because I learned to love history at a young age,finding out about the weather, food, living conditions of a particular time. I spent hours hunting through books for tidbits of information. When I started writing I was teaching school and had a large library only steps from my classroom. After classes I often spent time researching.

Our librarian loved the fact I wrote historical romance. She’d uncover a book she thought might be of interest to me and lay it aside so I could decide if it would be worthwhile reading. Each year, when the library budget was announced, I got a chance to buy the books she would replace. For little more than two dollars a volume I bought an older edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica. I used it for years, even with a few pages missing, liberated by students trying to write a term paper when time was short.

However, be warned! Even with a love of history, some times an author can't find the facts. In my medieval romance, "Heartsong", coming from Champagne Books in August I mention things I imagined because real facts were simply - unavailable.

After all, it’s called fiction for a reason.

Allison

2 comments:

Kimber Chin said...

I love reading about the past (my fave genre is historical romance). I can't write it, having no memory, but I certainly enjoy it.

Your family sounds fascinating.

Chumplet said...

My dad wove similar tales, and my mom insists we are distantly related to John A. Macdonald through a clandestine meeting with a Mik'maq princess.

Wouldn't THAT be a story!