One of the most surprising things I discovered about the process of writing was how fascinated I became with researching history for my novel. As an author, your main focus is on the characters and what’s going to happen next. Sprinkle in a few historical tidbits about the setting where they live and you’re good to go, right?
But as I researched these places, I felt a connection to them and their history. And the people who were there before. Think about the place you call home. That place didn’t miraculously appear the moment you arrived there. Your hometown has a past. It has a history. And that history gives meaning to a place.
On a cross-country trip from Michigan to California, hauling a race car for our son’s college Formula racing team, my husband and I just happened to be on the same route as part of the Oregon Trail. I was so excited!
We stopped at Fort Kearny (car-nee), part of the storyline in my novel. As a writer, you have to pick and choose those parts of history you want to focus on without going down the history “rabbit hole.” It’s easy to get carried away!
Alas, wild and woolly Dobytown near Fort Kearny didn’t make it onto the written page. But it was the first Hell on Wheels town that popped up out of nowhere as the Transcontinental Railroad line was heading its way in August 1866.
Writing love stories set in the past is a way of romanticizing history. What’s not to love? 💕