By Christine Thackeray
When writing historical fiction, the challenge isn't merely being intimately aquainted with dates, specific characters, places and events. That is the easy part. One of the biggest challenges is being be accurate in the minutia of life. For instance what would they eat or wear. That is where we feel and breathe in their moment.
I'm currently attempting to write an historical fiction of the life of 'wicked' King Herod. It's been tricky because so much of Jewish food and phrases is actually Yiddish which came much later. Even the Mishnah and Talmud are post-Herod. In writing about a family meal, I remember spending a full day just to find out what they would have eaten.
As my husband has watched me struggle, he asked, "Can you really write about a place without seeing it?"
I turned to him and said that I'd do my best because I knew there was no way I would ever be able to go. Still, I remember reading "The Mapmaker's Wife," a loosely historical account of an author re-crossing the same territory as a remarkable woman and trying to see the world through her eyes. It filled the book with an immediacy that brought her story alive.
So my husband said, "Let's do it. Let's go."
And we are. We leave tomorrow with a tour group for ten days and I can't WAIT!!!!!
See, not only can writing be fun... so can the research.