I love research. As a history major (way back in the dark ages when libraries weren’t automated and we still had to use the card catalog), I loved digging through dusty stacks in back corners, finding obscure texts that no one had opened in decades. Especially if those texts were transcriptions of letters or diaries from ages past. I loved discovering what people thought and talked about, what they did in their day-to-day lives. All of this fueled my desire to write historical fiction.
But guess what? Of all the cool things authors learn as we research, only a fraction make it into the final product. That was certainly true for me when I wrote Wings of a Dream. I was able to incorporate some very specific events into the text, some from general research, some from family history, but many others got cut and pasted into the “scraps” file on my computer.
Like the staggering fact that 25,000 pilots received their “wings” at Love Field in Dallas during the year of 1918.
Or the horrific week in October of 1918 when almost 4600 people died of Spanish flu in Philadelphia. Yes, in one week, in one city. They ran out of coffins.
Or the story that my great-grandfather, the inspiration for the character Frank Gresham in Wings of a Dream, fired the final shot of World War I. It’s true. They say there is even a plaque commemorating this feat somewhere in Washington D.C. and I found the shot verified in a publication by the US Office of the Navy from 1920. (Thank you, Google Books!)
I’ve related but a few of the interesting bits of a research that didn’t find a home in Wings of a Dream. But who knows? There are many, many more stories to tell. Perhaps one day these pieces of information will find a permanent place.
Learn more about Anne Mateer and her books at her website.