When I was in Nebraska a couple weeks ago I got to spend a couple days doing on site research for Sandhill Dreams and Captive Dreams. I'm going to share some of the experiences from that with you over the next couple weeks.
For any book I write, there's a lot of research. If it's a current suspense, I need to research the town, the police department, the locations I plop a part of the plot in, etc.
For the historicals there's even more research. One commitment I make to you is that if you read my historical romances, I will have done everything I can to get the history right. I have a history minor from the University of Nebraska and am a history buff. A pet peeve is to read a book and know that the author didn't care enough to make sure the details were right. I can't promise I'll have every detail correct, but I will do my best to be as accurate as possible.
For Canteen Dreams I found a couple websites that had veterans' memories of the North Platte Canteen. My favorite is this site put together by an instructor at Mid-Plains Community College. When I went to it last night I saw they recently added this clip Charles Kuralt did on the Canteen -- if you have six minutes and broadband, watch it! It's great!
The Nebraska Studies site was also a good launching point. From my online research I also discovered a documentary Nebraska Public Television had produced called Canteen Spirit. The value of the videos is the interviews with women who worked the Canteen as well as some of the veterans who passed through.
I also identified a veteran (from one of these sites) who had passed through the Canteen. He was gracious enough to share his experiences from each of his five visits. He was unique in having that many stops, but each one still stands out in his mind 60 years later.
Then there was Bob Greene's book Once Upon a Town. If you haven't read it, I really encourage you to check it out. It is a wonderful snapshot into the Canteen and contrasts it with today.
All of that research helps the Canteen come to life in my mind, which then makes it easier for me to write about it. And hopefully, if the Canteen and its history is vibrant in my mind, it will become so in yours when you read the book. That's my deepest hope. Because stories like it are too special to be mistold.
Next Monday I'll tell you how I did research on the Pearl Harbor radio transcripts. And the debate my editor and I went through to make sure we got it right. Hope you've enjoyed this snapshot...and stay tuned... stories on Sandhill Dreams and Captive Dreams are coming up.