Guest Post with Angela PetchThis week on the blog for the third in my series on research, I'm thrilled to welcome an author whose writing I admire immensely, Angela Petch. Her novels are set in WW2 Italy. I'll let you tell you more.
Angela, welcome. You know I'm a big fan of your writing; whenever I read one of your novels, I can only imagine how much research you had to do so I'm delighted that you found time to share how you go about this with me and the readers. Over to you!
When writing #historicalfiction, I always have in my mind the “grey area” between fact and fiction. My responsibility as an author is to present credible history at the same time as threading in stories from my imagination. The phrase, “based on a true story” gives a sense that not everything is real life and so all “what-if” questions, are then allowed to come into play.
|Mamma and Baboop 1940s|
strafed a line of German vehicles nearby; the day she had to walk alone for several kilometres in order to sit an exam for her Pharmacy degree and was stopped at a road check… her fear of being raped; her diary, full of yearnings for her British army captain (future husband). I could go on.
life as a new bride in East Anglia - learning English, adapting to a completely
different culture was challenging. All her true accounts were spellbinding. I
wanted to write her story. Much more research was involved along the way.
Personal memories are valuable but can be distorted and exaggerated in time.
Eventually, I tweaked the facts of my in-laws’ lives to create more conflict for the plot.
Reading academic accounts to back up the history and cross referencing (a vital part of research) was essential to understand the background of the Italian Campaign. My bookshelves of text books are testament to my research.
Living in Italy for six months helps, as well as speaking Italian. Many of our elderly friends are happy to talk about their past. Our tourist office has diligently recorded their memories. Our past is the counterweight to our future. How true! I spied that phrase in another local museum recording one of the many massacres that occurred during occupation.
Ten miles or so from our Italian home is a national archive of diaries. Invaluable for research. When I wrote The Tuscan Girl I needed information about local women who consorted with the occupiers. Understandably, these records are scarce. Who wants to talk about what would have been considered betrayal? But I was able to track down three accounts which were gold dust. Nothing is doctored in this archive. There are spelling and grammatical errors. Real accounts written by real people.
I’m sure other writers will back up my final point. Briefly, if you can visit the locations you write about, so much the better. You’ll be able to paint your scenes more vividly, smell the smells, walk the walks, find angles you never knew about. This will definitely enrich your work.
Good luck and, above all, have fun!
Thank you, Angela. I'm sure readers will have been fascinated by the insight into the meticulous research you do. Having first-hand accounts, personal observations and diaries are, as you say, a 'treasure' for a writer. I so agree with your last point about your writing being enriched when you walk in the footsteps of your characters by visiting the locations if you can.
Angela 's books are all on Kindle Unlimited and Prime at the moment.
The Postcard from Italy http://ow.ly/LKp050HGisA
Thank you for reading. Writers, what 'treasure' have you found when researching for your novel? Readers, what convinces you the novel you're reading is well researched? I'd love to read your comments? Thank you.
For more about me and my writing, please visit my AMAZON author page.