Reading & Writing Historical Fiction

I love reading. Ever since I picked up my first book, I’ve loved reading. I discovered that warm and fuzzy feeling when a good romance ends. I discovered the edge-of-your-seat feeling when reading a suspense novel. I discovered that I could cry, when moved by a character’s faith and struggle. Reading was the best feeling in the world. Then I discovered that I could write and that opened up a whole new world. The thing about these books (another discovery I made) is that they were all Historical Fiction. I’ve read a variety of genres, but Historical Fiction has always called out to me. I love research, I love looking for facts and finding the truth. Putting it down on paper is a very satisfying feeling, making sure that what I’ve written is as accurate as I can make it while mixing with my character’s story is important to me. This was important to me while writing my book, the first one that will be published. When you write a novel based in the World War I era, you want to be accurate. But writing about The Somme was difficult. Writing about the devastation of the war that took nearly an entire generation of men from the world, was heartbreaking for me.

The inspiration for my novel came from another book. It wasn’t what I usually read, it wasn’t fiction. It was one of the many historical books my dad keeps on his shelves in the den. There are a mixture of books about WWI and WWII in ‘the book room’. Reading this one book in particular opened the world of WWI to me and my book, the first one to be published, was born. My heart was moved by the stories that were told in those pages, my mind coming alive the farther I went. My world opened to the historical facts surrounding that time. But the truth is, this book of mine was inspired quite a while before I read the book. It started one night a very long time ago, I don’t even remember when. One comment made by my parent opened the floodgates to the main theme of my story.

One night, while on the subject of WWI, my dad mentioned something about The Lost Generation (incidentally, the title of my book!). I heard him say this before, but until I read the book he gave me I didn’t understand it completely. He said that, eventually, people probably wouldn’t remember this tragedy. That it wouldn’t mean as much anymore. I told him that wasn’t true, that I would remember them and that I would tell my kids someday and they would tell theirs. I don’t know if my dad even remembers this, but this opened my mind to the story. A story about three couples, three families, and how this war changed them forever.

Since I’ve announced that my first book is being published, I’ve had people ask me what the book is about. Usually I start by giving them the title, ‘The Lost Generation’, and tell them that it’s a WWI era based novel about three couples from different parts of the world, (1 Canadian, 1 British, and 1 American) who end up coming together because of the war. Then I mention something that brings up questions. I mention the Pals Battalions. I’ve gotten a couple of head tilts and I’ve asked, ‘do you know what that is?’ Then I go into my explanation. This was the reason I wrote the book, the Pals Battalions. It inspired me, moved me…it broke my heart.

World War I was called The Great War. It was. But it was a Great War that became a Great Tragedy. My book, from the start, was written with the goal of giving different perspectives on the war, on men who went MIA, many of them never found. Of the women, wives and mothers, who were left behind, forced to continue with life without knowing what had happened to their men. My research opened this world to me, and my book came together in a rush. I am very excited to share it with you, and hope you are as moved by the tragedy and drama of that era as I was.

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One thought on “Reading & Writing Historical Fiction

  1. Thanks Erica. The story of the Pals Battalions broke my heart when I first read it when I was 14 yrs old and it still breaks my heart today …

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