Sparked by a couple of mentions in the diaries of the dashing Australian Ernest Morrison, Linda Jaivin wove the story of his lover, the American heiress Mae Perkins.
For her latest historical novel (Jaivin also writes erotic fiction) A Most Immoral Woman, Jaivin’s research took her from China to Japan, the US and Australia. Jaivin suggests a few things for aspiring writers of historical fiction.
The first is to know what makes the story right, what interests you about it?
It helps too if in the story there is an event that changed the course of history. For Jaivin it was the Russian-Japanese war.
The story and characters be they famous or imagined, or real people imagined, need to have resonance for today. What are the themes and events people from today can relate to?
However it is important not to overlay the perceptions of today, on characters of a time gone by.
Jaivin compiled notebooks for her main characters. Each carried pictures, and recorded found detail on their friends, family, attitudes to woman, physical appearance, musical tastes, what they read and more.
It takes an enormous amount of research and much must be left, says Jaivin.
Her rule is that every part of the research should either drive forward the narrative, or illuminate the character.
Post by Marian Edmunds