Monday, June 10, 2013

Vickie Hall guest blog

I asked Vickie Hall ," How much research does she do for a book like Journey of Promise? Does she travel, read other books besides the journals? how long from start to finish to write the book?"

Thanks Rhonda! That's a great question.

I did extensive research for both All That Was Promised and Journey of Promise. I studied the historical time period - what sorts of medicines were available, the type of foods that were eaten, the inventions of the day, the history of Wales and of Cardiff. I also researched the Welsh dialect when the people spoke English, as well as studying the Welsh language itself. (And let me tell you, Welsh is one tough language to learn!) I did a bit of research on the folk lore and costumes of the country so that I could incorporate some of that for authenticity.

Since Journey of Promise also covers emigration to America, I researched the historical accounts of crossing the Atlantic, what types of ships were used, the food that was eaten aboard ship, and the challenges of making such a crossing. Once the family arrives in New Orleans, I had to learn all about steamboats and how they work, what sort of employment was available in the city and the culture as well. My research also included the city of St. Louis. I learned a great deal about steamboats by reading a book written by Mark Twain. He gave very detailed accounts about how they work, the variations in their designs, and all of the jargon used to pilot them.

Writing historical fiction really does require an incredible amount of research, which can take me anywhere from six months to a year. Then the writing of the novel usually runs around six months or so. It's very time consuming, but so well worthwhile because it all helps bring the era and the characters to life with authenticity and detail.

My research often includes use of the internet, but I also buy specialized books that help me with details the internet may lack. The internet might be great for a quick fact, or a detail that's of lesser importance, but I find that using books gives me more meat. Of course, I read a lot and retain a lot of information, but I don't use it all. That would be too much! Still, I want to be accurate in portraying my story in every respect, while making it seamless to the reader so it feels natural as the story progresses.

Writing Journey of Promise was a real joy, and all of my research provided me with a great appreciation for Wales and its people, so much so, that I plan to go there one day. I'm sorry to say, I would have loved to have gone to Wales personally to aid in my research, but it wasn't possible at the time. But I'll make it there in the near future!

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