Historical fiction. Or historical adventure. Or historical fantasy. Or gaslamp…okay…my head’s spinning already. There will always be sub-genres within genres. Since childhood I’ve known I wanted to be a writer. Since childhood my mom has complained that I “make up stories for every little thing,” and I would always ask her, “What’s wrong with that?” It was my parents who fed the interest in our vacations. Dad was in the United States Air Force for 34 years, so many of our trips happened whenever Dad had to go to Florida or Texas or Georgia or Germany for some kind of training. Those trips included museum visits, travels to places of significance and learning.
Now I could go back into the whole “what inspired me to write,” but I have a whole blog post on that already. Visit this page to read about what started this journey as a whole. But I digress. All three of the genres in the title of this post have inspired me in one way or another, but the massive history of my own Commonwealth (if you’re a Pennsylvanian, you know we’re called a commonwealth) is what drew me in the most.
Enter in the idea for the series I’m working on. Novel research has never truly intimidated me. Maybe a bit at the beginning when I first started out and got a bit overloaded. As time went on I was able to discern what I actually needed to know and what wasn’t relevant. So the next three points will highlight the things that are relevant to historical fiction/adventure
1. Settings. All the settings.
The United States is a big place. I’ve been a citizen my whole life (born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA) and I think we get so focused on our own little regions that we forget that. It’s like when someone from another country decides to visit America and they think that Miami and New York City are close.
The same thing applies to Pennsylvania. Sometimes we don’t hear of places until something bad happens there and it ends up on the news. I don’t know what my original goal was when I began looking into my commonwealth’s history, but the more I learned about places I’ve only seen on maps the more I want to go there.
Last summer we went to Franklin, PA. An oil and train town, there’s so much richness in one tiny place that you could really spend several summers learning everything about what made the place tick. And when you realize how many familiar, historical names crop up there, it makes the experience all the better.
So, rich rich settings drew me in. What was vs. what’s there now quickly became a huge interest of mine. I hope to travel more for novel research in the future.
2. The complicated personalities.
Let’s face it, there’s complicated folk all over the place in modern history, not just the past. Back then, however, Twitter did not exist. Language was more eloquent. People had real connections with each other rather than what we see online. I love the idea of the simplicity of that time.
It doesn’t matter which century you choose there’s a plethora of personalities to investigate, some with more information on them than others.
3. To never forget where we come from.
There’s this funny agenda in modern times where people are attempting to either rewrite history or to let it fade into nonexistence by no longer teaching it. There’s history so gruesome we’d rather forget it but we can, we must learn lessons from it.
Immediately after the horrible events of 9/11/2001, the #NeverForget tag began to be used by news outlets, folks online, was printed on t-shirts and used in every day conversation. Eighteen years later, 9/11 is barely spoken about unless it’s the day of and perhaps in high school history classes.
That may have been an extreme example to use, but it perfectly illustrates the biggest reason why I write history. To never forget it.
The Firedamp Chronicles is an historical adventure series – based on real names and events that happened – I hope to continue focusing future stories centered on my home state. From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s tumultuous and rich history provides more than than enough curiosities to explore, and I hope, one day, to be blessed enough to share them with you.