Today, we have a guest blog from historical romance author Jackie M. Smith, on the joys of research and the importance of understanding your time period for quality writing.
When I first researched for my historical romance A Soldier’s Vow, I discovered so many interesting facts about the French country during one of the most terrifying periods in their long history. The German army had easily invaded the Northern part of France and often bombarded Paris but never succeeded in penetrating the city’s walls. Nonetheless, the city had been hit in other different and equally devastating ways.
Blackouts, food shortages and influenza affected everyone. Through my research, I discovered many families could no longer afford to keep their children fed, therefore they sent the weakest members of their family to their relatives in the country or other safer places. In A Soldier’s Vow, I wanted to show how the heroine Winnie Douglas saw and lived what everyone went through between 1914 and 1918 Paris. I also show how the war affected the women who stayed behind and waited for their husband, brother, cousin who joined the war effort.
The war also changed the soldiers who fought and saw firsthand the horrors and victories of war. Henry Whitfield, the hero in A Soldier’s Vow, had no idea what he would see and experience when he left his Canadian hometown. Many countries including Canada sent their strongest and bravest men overseas and fight an unknown enemy. They trained hard and fought even harder. Yet what waited for them in the trenches became their worst enemy. Rats, lice and other diseases caused the most terrible living conditions for every soldier on both sides.
Using such details in my book not only creates a setting but also brings the reader back to a time of turmoil, courage and undying love.
So, how do you approach researching your time period?
Jackie M. Smith is a Canadian novelist who currently writes historical romances for XOXO Publishing. Her novel, A Soldier's Vow, is available for purchase here.