Friday, August 30, 2013

A Peek Into What It Takes to Write Authentic Historical Novels - Lena Nelson Dooley - With a Giveaway

One of the things I like most about writing historical novels is finding nuggets of information to make the time period more accurate. While I was writing Maggie's Journey, book one of my McKenna's Daughters series, I was having a hard time picturing Seattle, Washington Territory, in 1885. I had looked for books and computer links but still didn't have much to go on.

When I quit working full-time and stayed home to write (the first time that happened), I started volunteering in our local library. I'm a real people person, and writing is a solitary endeavor. Imagine my surprise when they put me in the back of the library mending books. Still not much contact with actual people. But I learned a lot about how a library runs.

Every library has a reference librarian. This person will help people find the information they need. Since the advent of cell phones with nationwide free long distance, I have contacted a few of these librarians when I couldn't find information.

I decided to contact the Seattle Public Library. I didn't ask for anyone to do my research for me, just a few suggestions on books about the time period. I hit the Mother Lode.

Seattle Public Library system had digitized literally thousands of historical photos and loaded them on line by decade. I used a number of these pictures to help me construct in my mind the areas of the city that I could use in my book. Also, I found a similar site for San Francisco, which is one of the settings in the book three, Catherine's Pursuit.

At one time in writing Maggie's Journey, I wanted to find the name of a nice hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1885. When I used Google to find the information, a map of St. Louis in 1885 appeared along with photos and text about various buildings and areas of the city. Another valuable moment.

Here are a few of the links I used:
http://mappery.com/map-of/Antique-map-of-St-Louis-from-1885
http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=Category:1880s

The use of research enriches all my books, whether historical or contemporary.

If you've read my McKenna's Daughters books and Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, please share with us which of the settings you liked best.

I'll choose a winner from all those who leave comments for an ebook copy of one of these books:

The Spinster and the Cowboy

The Best Medicine


You can choose the book you win in either a Kindle or a Nook edition.

8 comments:

Amy C said...

I like the Arkansas setting in Maggie's Journey. I LOVED that series!
Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Thank you, Amy. I loved adding the Arkansas setting. I was born and grew up in Arkansas. I even graduated from high school a little west of North Little Rock.

Jillian Kent said...

Love that picture of you and your hubby, Lena. When I begin a story I go looking for what was happening in that point in history that might add to the authenticity of the period.

Barbara Thompson said...

I haven't had the opportunity to read these books, but I'm dying to get my hands on them. Our library doesn't have them and I'm disabled, but as soon as I can save my money I will be reading these books. Books sound fantastic. I'm looking forward to reading all of them. Enjoyed your posting.
Barbara Thompson
barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

Debby Mayne said...

Lena, your research is evident in all your books. That's one of the reasons readers love you so much.

I also love the photo of you and your husband. Y'all are such a precious couple!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

That picture was taken at the PrimeTime Valentine banquet this year. You can't tell in the picture, but my jacket was black lace.

Martha W. Rogers said...

You and Lynn Coleman are two of "go to" people for historical information. You two seem to know it all.

You and hubby looking good, Lena. You do know that all my husband's family are from Arkansas and I have four cousins born and reared in North Little Rock and Little Rock. Going there in October.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Martha, I didn't realize we had an Arkansas connection. Small world.