Sunday, October 20, 2013

Should You Know the History of the Place You’re Writing About?

(My guest today is Marilyn Meredith, prolific author of some 30 novels, including an award-winning series. Read on and you could have a character named for yourself in a future novel.)

Some might say, “No,” in my case since the setting for Spirit Shapes takes place in a fictional setting.

However, throughout the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, I’ve woven in bits and pieces of the real history of the town it’s based on and I think that’s enriched each book.

In Kindred Spirits I wrote about the true history of the Tolowa people and the genocide that nearly wiped out the whole tribe and instigated by the then Governor of California.

I’ve written about the history of the Bear Creek Inn which once was a stage stop for people going higher into the mountains to see the big trees in several books. I wrote a lot about the history of the Tapper Lodge in Intervention even though that Lodge is fictional, but the history is borrowed from Camp Nelson.

Because at times I write about an imaginary Indian reservation but borrow a lot from the real one that I live near. I’ve often sprinkled wonderful facts of the history and legends from that reservation which have enriched various stories I’ve written.


In Spirit Shapes the haunted house is imaginary—but the old murders that happened in it are based on real murders—one that was highly publicized though changed in many ways for my mystery, and the other didn’t happen but was based on a story told me by someone long ago.

Finding out about the history of a place you’re writing about, even if you’ve fictionalized it, can give you material for you story that you might never have imagined.

As a reader, do you like to have interesting historical facts spicing up your fiction? And if you’re a writer, do you like to find out historical facts about the place you’re writing about?

Marilyn Meredith

Blurb for Spirit Shapes: Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, including the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation. She does like to remind everyone that she is writing fiction. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and follow her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Contest:

The person who comments on the most blogs on this blog tour will have the opportunity to have a character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting here: http://thebookconnection.com.blogspot.com




21 comments:

  1. In answer to your questions, yes, I love to learn some historical (and other facts) when I read a novel. And, I want any bits of history that I use in my books to be accurate.
    Marilyn has inspired me to consider using a fictional town in my fourth book. It will take place in and around Charleston, SC and I need to present that area "accurately" but a fictional town nearby? Something to think about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the fact that I can move things around in my fictional town yet the people who live here in Springville (real name of Bear Creek) know exactly the place I'm writing about. Thanks for your comment, Patricia.

      Delete
  2. Marilyn,

    I majored in English and Social Studies as an undergrad because I always loved the interaction of literature and history. I agree with you on how useful it is to draw on local history in creating fiction. I did this with THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY and believe the novel is much stronger because of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first two published novels were based on my family genealogy and I did a lot of historical research which filled in a lot of gaps for me. Thanks for your comments, Jacqueline.

      Delete
  3. And John, I'm slow about getting here to thank you, time difference. This is a great blog, and I'm grateful to be a guest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Marilyn. I'm honored to host you.

      Delete
  4. You make Bear Creek sound very real to me, Marilyn. I usually write about real places, and I have to get the history correct. I'm presently writing a fantasy novel set in a place called The Farther Isles. Since I'm making this place up, the important thing is to be consistent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bear Creek is real, I just moved it 1000 feet higher into the mountains for better trees and more weather, changed some of the stores and their locations, but it's still my town. Thanks for your comment, John. Have fun with your fantasy novel.

      Delete
  5. I enjoy historical facts in fiction because I see an author'd role is to tell a great story and educate readers. This was a fun blog to read today! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi, Chris, thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed complying with John's topic request. It was a good one.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love to learn something when I read fiction. Sometimes it is history I am learning about, sometimes geography, sometimes it is a new recipe :) but novels that teach me something in addition to entertaining me are always the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd be hard pressed to hide at this point Marilyn! LOL

      Delete
  8. Good post! Historical facts in fiction make books more interesting and more real to me. Keep 'em coming!

    Lots of luck with your work, Marilyn.


    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for stopping by and your wish for good luck with my work, Gail.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think being historically accurate, even in a fictional place, is important to add credibility to your story. We created a fictional town in Colorado for our romance anthologies, but everything which supposedly happened there is accurate for the time in which it took place. Our latest work, THE MEMORY KEEPER, is an historical novel set in a real town, so all of the history has to be absolutely accurate.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lorna, that's more or less what I've done with Bear Creek. Thanks for stopping by.

    Mairlyn

    ReplyDelete
  12. Really, I do know how to spell my own name. It's Marilyn.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The town in my first published story, Hurricane, Indiana, is fictional (although it's set in a real place near my home). But I know when it was founded, why it was named, how the major buildings ended up there, and the history of my main character's family even before they arrived. It makes the whole thing richer and more fun.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes, Mark, these little tidbits make the story more interesting for the reader. Marilyn

    ReplyDelete
  15. From one veteran to another--hi Marilyn. I always enjoy your stories. Jane Toombs

    ReplyDelete