This is one of Andrea's 2014 Favorites. Be sure to check out the review!
QUICK TIPS FOR WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION By Makiia Lucier
IF IT’S STILL STANDING, TRY TO VISIT IT Let’s say you have a great idea for a book. The year is 1860. A young woman, newly widowed, flees her oppressive in-laws and sails to Honolulu in order to become a governess on a pineapple plantation. That’s awesome. Only you’ve never been to Hawaii. And the closest you’ve ever come to a pineapple is in the canned goods aisle at Safeway. It’s not always possible to travel for research; there are constraints on your time and finances. But the more intimately acquainted you are with your setting, the better your story will be. To quote Robert Louis Stevenson: “The author must know his countryside, whether real or imaginary, like his hand; the distances, the points of the compass, the place of the sun’s rising, the behavior of the moon, should all be beyond cavil.”
STORY COMES FIRST I’m a lazy reader ninety percent of the time. I admit it. If I flip though a book and see endless blocks of text with no dialogue in sight, I will put it back on the shelf and back away slowly, as though it were a live bomb. I don’t think I’m in the minority. Most people read historical fiction in order to be transported to another world, not to be lectured to. I try to keep that in mind when deciding which bits of research make it into the final edit. Is it necessary? Will it further the plot? And will this be of interest to anyone but myself? Remember, story always comes first.
FOOT-BINDING SHOES & SPECIALIZED MUSEUMS Historical societies and specialized museums are a goldmine for novelists trying to unearth obscure information. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City features clothing and accessories from the fifteenth century to present day. The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada contains nearly 10,000 examples of footwear, including Chinese foot-binding shoes and Chestnut-crushing clogs from France. Visitors to the Police Museum in Portland, Oregon can try on authentic police uniforms, pore over early arrest records, and inspect an original jail cell. And the Campbell House in Spokane, Washington is arranged to look like an early twentieth century family just stepped out for the day. The resources are endless. If you don’t know where to begin, just be nice to your local librarian. They are usually very happy to point you in the right direction.
About A DEATH-STRUCK YEAR
A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.
For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country--that's how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode--and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can't ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can't help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?
Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?
About Makiia Lucier
Makiia Lucier grew up on the Pacific island of Guam. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's in library studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She's had plenty of jobs, mostly in libraries, and currently lives in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho.
There is a tour-wide giveaway for a SIGNED COPY of A DEATH-STRUCK YEAR to one winner – US ONLY.
Giveaway ends on March 17th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.
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