Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Research for historical novels

Last Saturday I went to another chapter meeting by the RNA. The speaker was Jean Fullerton, who writes a series about nursing before the war and the NHS. Jean is a district nurse herself, but has to do research. Here is what she does:

She first gets the background of the area, and has a map of the area her novels are based in. This came from a little book called the A to Z Atlas Guide to London and Suburbs. It includes all buildings dated back before the war and old and new street names. She said she got it from Amazon but I am still searching for it as I want to have that book to use for my own historical stories I want to write.

She reads biographies, and has read lots of biographies of nurses back in the war.

She said you have to get a feel for the story. You've got to have the attitude, and your characters have got to have the mindset of the period you are writing in. They have got to understand what is going on around them at that time. They have got to be someone who is progressive in their times. Still have an education, even if it was by the vicar and Sunday School.

Jean has got books with photos of the area. These include how people lived at the time, and were bought from Shire Books (made a note of the website so I could look them up for my own reference).
Jean also found a calendar of that time. She also has magazines and papers from that time, inc a Woman's Own. She also had a print out of BBC radio programmes. Did you know that radio programmes finished at 11pm, so you couldn't work out how the characters knew it was midnight?

I found this very helpful and now know what I need to know and do when it comes to writing the series of short stories I have for Bea's family, who are in the 19th century. First stop is to find that A to Z and look up Shire Books. Thank you, Jean.

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