This blog is in honor of Camille Minichino who kicked me out of Research Addiction and started me on the path to publication on October 1, 2014 of my debut novel, Beyond the Silk Mills, a historical saga of family discord, obsessive ambition, and regret. Trade Paperback and eBook are available on Amazon. Kobo and Nook carry the eBook. Libraries and Indie Book Stores may order from Ingram.
How Not to Write Historical Fiction, Part I
“Great news!” I told my husband. “I have the makings of my first novel. I’m going to write about an immigrant wife’s aspirations for wealth and power and about her husband who doesn’t care about having money.”
The historian in him jumped to attention. He was full of questions. When? What was life like for immigrants?
“I have the story outlined. Emma starts…”
“Yes, but what was going on in the country when Emma tried her hand at money-making?” My helpful husband guided me to his office ‘library’ stocked on all sides with floor to ceiling bookshelves, including all manner of history books. Aside from math, history is his love. He pulled out a stack of books from his history section about societal issues in the early twentieth century.”
Whose book is this? His or mine? I felt heat rising to my cheeks, and as usual when faced with conflict or a daunting project, I started to sweat.
Oblivious to my stress, and with that well-known greedy-for-books look on his wild-eyed face, he made his way to the computer said, “Let’s get on line and find some more books.”
The first book that came up was New York Year by Year. Before I could react, he had clicked the Amazon ‘Buy Now with One Click’ order button.
I retreated to my own office with its meager bookcase of knitting and travel books. I picked up my needles and began to knit-purl at a rapid pace. Click, click. The needles worked out my anxiety, and I picked up the top book on the pile that he had so graciously plopped on my desk, A History of the Jews in America.
After flipping through it, I called up the stairs, “Can I write notes in your book margins?”
I got my sticky pad and pen and went to work notating pages of interest that I might include in my opus. At dinnertime I was stunned to see Bill at my office door. “You’ve been reading for almost three hours. Are you planning any food?”
I shook myself out of the past and thought about the mundane.
Seeing my expression, he said, “Let’s go out to eat.”
A week later I had been reading and note-taking non-stop when he approached me with a new source he had read about. This time I followed him without hesitation to the computer where he pulled up the book called The Brothers Ashkenazi, copyright 1936. It was an out-of-print novel about the Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland, and the collectible copy cost $112.
“Go ahead. Spend the money,” he said. Once again his over-active thumb pressed ‘Buy Now with One Click.’ This is how I became addicted to research. Stay tuned….