How Do You Achieve Historical Accuracy?
If you write stories from the past, you know what I’m talking about when I say you must have historical accuracy in your work. Readers will be dismayed with your story if you use modern language or insert something that didn’t exist at the time in which your story takes places. Those who think readers don’t care, may be sadly mistaken and the price for such a mistake may be that they won’t read that author’s next historical book.
Writers use all types of resources for their historical work. I have a series by Writer’s Digest called Every Day Life in (the Middle Ages, Colonial America, Renaissance England and so on). These are wonderful books that give the basics of clothes, entertainment, food, medicine and some common words. I also have a book with all the Historical Time Tables in it for every year from first written historical documentation to present but these are brief notations only.
Each historical writer has a time period they are especially attracted to like the American Civil War and the aftermath. My favorite time is 1900-1930. I am lucky enough to have a research book that goes in depth about this time period with many pictures and illustrations titled Remember When. This book above all others helped me when I wrote The Violin, Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride and my present WIP. My research has also included some hands on, face to face experiences. I went for a flight in a small plane and learned the instrument panel and how to get out of a dive by experiencing it first hand—a terrifying experience that. I interviewed a homicide detective and had a long chat with an octogenarian who had lived through the 1920’s and Great Depression. I also had the good fortune to have parents who loved to talk about way back when they were growing up.
I don’t know about other authors but I enjoy the research sometimes a bit too much. I can get lost in it because, well, it’s just fun.
So, imagine what it might be like for a modern woman to try to make a meal using 1910 technology—or lack of in this case.
Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride
By Sarah McNeal
Available at Western Trail Blazer Novels
Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
Also available in print
A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny.
Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?
Lola examined the metal bucket resting under the water pump in the dry sink and gave the pump a couple of thrusts to see how well it worked. The pump worked with ease, testifying that Joe had maintained and oiled the pump workings well. Cold, clear water propelled by the force of her exertions splashed into the bucket. A burst of happiness invaded her chest as she filled the bucket and then filled the reservoir on the side of the stove. She remembered her great grandmother’s old wood burning stove from her early childhood and had a faint recollection of how they worked.
Amazement filled her at how easy it might be for her to adjust to this rustic life. If she could ditch the tight corset, this life might even be tolerable for a while. Visiting an outhouse for personal business was, however, something she did not look forward to.
Lola took up the iron handle she found lying on the shelf above the stove, poked it into the slot of one of the burners, and lifted the round lid up. Everything seemed to be in working order. She found some pine chunks in a metal box beside the stove and threw them into the stove. Taking a match from the box above the stove near the plate warmer, she scratched it on the rough surface of the stovetop until it ignited and then threw it onto the kindling inside the stove. The kindling didn’t catch fire so she tried it several more times without success.
“Here, now. I’ll help you with that.” A baritone voice spoke with quiet confidence just behind her as she attempted once again to get a fire lit. His voice rippled down her spine in a wave of heat that caught her breath. He stood much too close for comfort.