Historical Fiction


Historical Fiction
Natalie Bright
 
Historical details haunt me. Am I getting this right? Accuracy in the stories I’m writing cause me much concern and angst; I never feel I’ve done enough homework or that I have a full grasp of the time period. Take for example a letter to the editor of the Western Writers of America’s magazine. He wrote to complain about the use of the word “sheriff” in western novels. City councils hired a “marshall”, not a sheriff. For my middle-grade series set in the Wild West, I did research Marshall, who was appointed by the U.S. President at the time. I got that right. The thought to question and research the term ‘Sheriff’ never once crossed my mind. Will the incorrect information aggravate some readers, and since it’s a children’s book, should writers have an even bigger obligation to make certain the historical information is accurate?
 
I’m experiencing the same doubts when working on the WordsmithSix’s Route 66 anthology. The history is fascinating, and it’s difficult to stop the research and just write. My story is set in the 1930s, and when I read first-hand accounts of the time period, I want to include all of the details that I find enthralling, but the readers may find cumbersome. I guess the best thing to do, is just let the characters decide.
 

Here’s the blurb for our upcoming anthology, which will be a collection of stories from different time periods but with one common Route 66 location. I think readers will love this collection of stories, and the research has been fun. My story is actually based on the true circumstances of my husband’s great-grandmother and is set in 1930’s Texas.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and finally a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers, and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt highway, it has connected generations of people.

Join us as we travel through time from the early days and well into the future on the Mother Road.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is a collection of stories that tell of good times and bad, love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them are connected by one stop, the Tower Station, and U-Drop Inn. 

 
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Cultures Unlike Us


Cultures Unlike Us

We had an interesting discussion about cultures that are so very different from us at a recent critique group meeting.

Bullfighting

The discussion began because one among us is researching the Matador and the history of bull fighting for a story. She shared some of what she had learned. The centuries old tradition can be traced as far back as ancient Rome where man–against-animal events were held. Bullfighting is a blood sport deeply entwined into the cultures of Spain, Portugal, and many South American countries. Matadors enjoy celebrity status and the showmanship is very entertaining. A special breed of cattle are bred especially for the bullfighting ring.

Food in the Eyes of the Hungry

Our discussion turned to cultures different from us and their food. It was pointed out that some cultures think “food” when they see a dog, which is considered a delicacy in many Asian cultures. These dogs are bred specifically for the purpose of feeding people.

A visitor from Belgium told me that grocery stores in Europe have horse meat for sale in their meat market along side beef, pork, and chicken. She rarely buys beef because it’s so expensive in her native country.

As an owner of a cow/calf operation in the Texas Panhandle, the ranch horse and the cow dog are our working partners in the ranching industry. Our business is feeding hungry people with Texas Angus beef raised on native grasslands. The American culture has included beef and pork as a mainstay for centuries. I could never plan a menu around a juicy hunk of horse or dog meat. What about having a character eat something odd or cook something they’d never eat themselves? Interesting premise!

Writers and Their Research

One of the things I love about my WordsmithSix writers critique group is how non-judgemental we are. Our discussions cover a wide range of topics, and it’s great fun to dig deep into the issues that impact our stories. We greet each new subject matter with hyper curiosity. We question everything, and since we’ve been meeting for over five years now, we have very open and informative discussion. Visitors to our group are sometimes shocked at our musings.

To get to the heart of the story and to dig deep into our character’s motivation, can writers greet their research without bias? Does our background and beliefs get in the way?

Writing onward…

Where is a Book Born?


Where is a Book Born?

By Natalie Bright

For bestselling author Jodi Thomas, it begins with a walk on the land where her story is set. Here’s a link to a video that explains her process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG4IeXueJDA

The pictures were taken by me during the Spring and Fall roundups on our cattle ranch located in the Texas Panhandle, where she has done most of her research. Hope this inspires you!

For more information about Jodi Thomas and her Ransom Canyon series, go to jodithomas.com