Sunday, April 07, 2002

Happy Camp History Research for my Novel

When I woke up this morning ... first thing, I picked up a copy of the Siskiyou County Pioneer - the historical society's annual publication.

The one I own (the ONLY one I own) is about the history of bootlegging and prostitution in the county, the 1994 edition of the Pioneer. The reason I bought it was... because I have in mind to write a children's book about this area.. taking place in about 1920. I'm trying to get a good grasp on what the culture of that era was. Still I have so many questions. Were there telephones in Happy Camp then? If so, were they just on this side of the Klamath River or were they on the other side too? Were there any wild horses then? Were bootleggers out here very concerned about being caught? How many elementary schools were there in 1920 in this area, and where exactly were they?

Sure, I could make up a lot of stuff and probably most people would never know the difference, but do I want to do that or do I want the absolute facts? How deeply must a historical novelist dig in order to find factual data for a good novel? Somehow, it is much easier to write a fantasy... and that's why my first novel IS a fantasy... at the time I didn't want to stop to research because I knew I was going to write that novel in a hurry. (It took 17 days to write 50,152 words, and since it is a children's novel, that's more than enough.)

At night now I'm reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott... I just love that book. It is strong on both humor and good writer's information. I like it better than the book I read last month - Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, though that's one of the classics for writers.

Keith stayed up all night last night. Now he looks so tired. He says he couldn't sleep... like he really tried.

(later...) Now it is noon and he is resting. He said he planned to wake up in an hour and I told him I wouldn't wake him up. We'll see what happens.

All I've done so far this morning is write this and read my email. I have too much email coming and and must delete most of it. I just scan for information except on the lists I own, and the web design lists - I try to get as much information out of those as possible.

Update: My novel, River Girl, was published in 2011.

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