Saturday, December 05, 2009

Finding Historical Hooks: by Amber Stockton


Hi! My name is Amber Stockton and Cara has graciously invited me here to her blog today to talk about my writing inspirations. Specifically, where I find my writing hooks for my historical novels.

I can’t think of a topic that’s more fun to discuss. J

Far too often, authors are asked where they get their ideas. Well, the short answer is from real life. That can get you started, sure, but there is a lot more that goes into writing a book than merely an idea. Nevertheless, an idea is where it all begins.

For me, in writing historical fiction, I start with real life. I observe people, experiences, news stories and conversations as I go about my day-to-day routine. Once I find something that piques my interest, I start looking for a setting that would best showcase that idea or tidbit.

My first book was the result of a house I passed while driving almost every day. One day, I stopped the car, rolled down the window and looked at the historic marker with a notation that said, “circa 1740.” I thought to myself, “If only those walls could speak.” What a story they would tell! So, being the writer that I am, I took a literary license and … made it up!

The ‘what if’ moment came when I developed the story line. I mused out loud, “What if a heroine with no siblings also loses her parents, then finds herself as the sole owner of land in a new world where women have no voice, feeling as if God has forsaken her?”

And thus, Promises, Promises was born!

The two books which followed featured the next 2 generations in the family who occupied that same house. Each heroine was the daughter of the heroine from the book before it. I highlighted the Great Awakening, the French & Indian War and then the Revolutionary War, while also delving into the lives of women from three different generations of the same family.

In my second series, my editor asked me to pick from a few options and develop 3-book series from them. The one she loved the most came from a series set in Michigan. I have always loved Mackinac Island, but my publisher had a series set there recently, so I had to move it elsewhere in the state. With all of the talk at the time about Detroit and the auto companies there, I thought it might be fun to explore that city over 100 years ago to showcase what it once was. So, I picked the Industrial Revolution, highlighting the factory growth, the financial crisis of 1893, and ended the series with a focus on the Model-T Ford.

Those 3 books released this year, and the 3rd is out this month.

One of most common bits of feedback I receive from readers is how much they love the historical tidbits I include in my books. With such a great love of history, it’s both a challenge and a fun exploration to find those unique snippets to add flavor to my stories. I love introducing readers to new and unknown facts about certain areas or geographic regions.

If I help just one reader become a greater fan of history or even discover a hidden love for history, then I’ve succeeded in my writing. I know Cara shares my love of history, and her World War II stories have received rave reviews.

So, I hope those of you reading this will also come along a journey into the past and discover the worlds of days gone by. We can learn so much from those who have gone before us. And if it’s told in story, it makes the discovery that much more fun!

Thanks for having me here, Cara. Be blessed!

5 comments:

Michelle said...

I really enjoyed reading your post! It's nice to have an idea of how the writer's mind works to come up with the story we read on the page. It's very interesting!

Historical novels are my most favorite, too, by the way!

Sweet Blessings,

Michelle

Linda said...

I really enjoyed your post about your books. I love historical novels, and I've read one by you and loved it! The rest are on my TBR list!

Casey said...

Wonderful post! Very informative and interesting. Thank you for sharing it!

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I love this post! I love hearing about the process the author goes through and since I really love your historical romances, this was fascinating. Pure genius. You have unique ways of looking at things.

Thanks, Tiff and Cara both for doing this angle on writing. I know that Cara, also, has a fascinating way of finding her stories, so this was great.

Amy Tate said...

Great post! Thank you for sharing this as I'm trudging through my own first historical novel.

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