Building a Story Around History

My life would be much easier if I just wrote in the twenty-first century, where I’m familiar with everything around me.  I can see why contemporary authors often pound out book after book of modern love stories.  Unless they are focused on some particular subject, research is pretty much quick and easy. I’m sure in some cases, it’s not needed.  My one contemporary romance is the only book I’ve been lucky enough to write with little effort.

However, I love to torture myself by picking a difficult subject matter.  Lady Grace is no exception.  Set during World War I in England from 1914-1919, I’ve been spending hours researching everything from aspirin to Belgian refugees to place this story in a believable setting.  Research teaches me (a person who once hated history), and I am often fascinated by what I learn.

As I finished the first draft (yes, I’m writing the last few words), it dawned on me that I pretty much build stories around history.  Of course, many authors do the same and take creative liberties. Famous writers have rearranged history to make things more interesting.  However, doing so can make you a magnet for criticism and one-star reviews.  I get those one-stars regardless, but at least I know I’ve done my homework for the most part.

In Lady Grace, I’ve built a story around history, which includes the Belgian refugees and Belgian soldiers convalescing in Britain.  So what have I learned?  If you haven’t been following my Ladies of Disgrace blog, here are links to the interesting facts weaved throughout the book.  In addition to those noted below, I also used some personal books I’ve amassed from my ancestral research into the years of the Great War in England. One of my resources contained newspaper articles from the time period.  Salford 1914-1920 – The County Borough and the First World War by Roy Bullock.

Lady Grace contains many somber elements in the storyline, but I leave a semi-sweet happy ending. My next lady will be much more lighthearted and set in the Victorian era.  I definitely need a few laughs.