In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Historical Fiction: Digging for "Truth"


Often "truth" is not displayed by a photo, no matter how accurate the image may be. The photos shown here -- not so great, because I took it with my cell phone, having forgotten to bring along my camera -- show a bit of the center of the village of Coventry. A casual visitor would assume that the soldiers' monument on the village green lists the Yankees who enlisted to fight for their country or their cause, and indeed, it does. But the faces aren't what are usually shown as Vermont faces in 1850. Four of the names here are brothers in the Mero family. They were native Vermonters, and they all enlisted when the Civil War broke out in 1861. And they were Black.

There were more than 700 "free blacks" in Vermont in 1850. What patterns of life did they witness as spring arrived in that year? What heritage did they treasure? How were they embraced as neighbors in a village where everyone helps each other (because the weather is so much more powerful than any person can handle)?

For me, historical fiction can be a result of excavating the past to discover as much as possible of these accurate truths, then using a threaded needle to carefully darn the gaps. If you've never yet darned a sock -- the process of weaving yarn or thread back and forth across a heel or toe to replace worn-out fabric -- you might not realize this final detail: You have to be careful not to pull too tightly on the threads as you weave them, or you'll tug the edges of the hole too close together and end up with a miserable lump in the sock that keeps you from wearing it after all.

And that's exactly why the writing of historical fiction has to be so careful in how it pictures the truth.

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