How To Do Historical Fiction
The way I approached doing historical fiction is pretty much how I would appraoch anything that I wish to become decent at; I immersed myself in it.
Until Someday is truthfully the first of many books I’ll scribe that take place not only in the past… but a hell of a long time ago. Fortunately, with the use of the internet, this trip backwards to whatever cherished or not so cherished period in history has become easier than ever before. Having said that, it still isn’t overly simple. I had to bring the roaring 20s to life so that when you stepped into Emmett Roane’s world you really felt like you were there. Everything had to damn close to perfect. This included not only materialistic things such as clothes, cars, décor, firearms and furniture, but also language/ dialect and behaviors. Its fun to throw in a few more modern themes or words into a period piece too just to throw a wink at the reader. Wes Anderson does this in some of his films and its quite funny. The trick is to not overdo it and bring the reader/viewer out of the world you’ve submerged them in.
As I stated before, you must immerse yourself in the era if you wish to immerse the reader. Prior to and during the composition of Until Someday I read a couple of books that took place in or around that period. Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night, a novel set in the 1920s and 30s, helped me. I also read books that took place in a similar setting, such as Richard Matheson’s A Bid Time Return, a novel that most people would recognize by its famous Christopher Reeve film adaptation Somewhere in Time. In addition to literature I utilized a number of online articles focusing on language, style, weapons and cars. I watched numberous youtube videos about the 20’s along with the Ken Burns documentary Prohibition, which I found to be immensely helpful and interesting.
It got to the point where, in my head, I was living in 1927 as much as I was living in present day. We’ve been blessed with an array of gifts in the form of modern technology. These tools bring us as close to stepping into a time machine as mankind will probably get. My advice… use all of it.