Saturday, October 24, 2009
Researching your characters
I prefer researching and writing about the U.S. in the 1800's. Specifically the western U.S. However, I find myself time and again having to research farther back and overseas to fully develop my characters.
A character's roots tells a lot about that character and I find that by going back on the family tree I can develop my characters and make them more real. My problem is even though I'm researching for my book set in the west in the 1800's I have to delve into 1700's Europe sometimes.
I remember my Social Studies classes and learning all about the "boiling pot" that makes up America. I know the only true American is the Native America who has been on this continent the longest though I've also read they came from another continent as well, long, long ago. My heritage is a "Heinz 57". My mother's side being predominately German and my Dad's side Dutch, Irish, English. So even to find my ancestral background I have to travel abroad.
Which brings me to- I have a book case full of western reference books and few on European history and find myself either going online or traipsing to the library to find the research materials need when I work to "discover" family history on a character. Anyone wanting to comment and leave me some good reference books I'd appreciate it.
For my latest release, Miner in Petticoats, the heroine took some research. I wanted her Scots, but while researching for her background I found that many of the Scots at the time she would have been a girl were exiled to Ireland due to clan wars. So I put her in Ireland and she married an Irish man who was killed during the uprisings between the Irish and the English.
While none of the story takes place in Ireland, I still had to research the living conditions and the upheaval going on there to be able to give my character back story that made her who she is in this book.
Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for his brothers’ growing families.
However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle- one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again- their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.
How far have you gone to build your character in your mind as well as your reader's?