I had the honor of giving a presentation on writing historical fiction at the Mesquite Book Festival on Saturday. I began describing the research I did before I started writing my Native American historical novel, Koicto. One thing I've learned with writing historicals is that you have to read a lot of non-fiction books to create a believable world that is as close to the reality of the time as you can make it.
In Koicto, some of the questions I tried to address were:
- Who were the Fremont Indians?
- How did they live?
- What did they believe?
- What was it like to live in 885 A.D.?
- What did they eat, what were there rituals, why did they carve on rocks, etc...
I talked about the writing process that I outlined in my blog post on November 6th http://amyjarecki.blogspot.com/2012/11/building-novel-my-writing-process.html , and some of the tools that I use, but historical fiction starts with research:
- Reading, reading reading.
Since I wrote Koicto, I have written 4 historical romance manuscripts, and Virtue, which will be released in December 2013, has a lot of Mayan history intertwined. I gave one of my Scottish historical manuscripts to a Scottish woman to review for authenticity. Though she's not a historian, she grew up around the antiquity of her ancestors, and has given me a ton of input on how to make some of the things in my scenes more realistic.
If you're going to write historical fiction, I believe it is important to get as much of the history right as you possibly can.
Write on friends!