When I relax in the evening I reach for my favorite kind of book—historical fiction. Since I love reading this genre it only followed that it would be my favorite to write about.
You might think that history was my best subject in school, but no, I disliked it thoroughly. After I was out of school was when I realized how interesting history actually is, which doesn’t say much for my teachers. The first book that triggered my fascination was H.G. Wells’ Outline of History, a monstrous tome that, once I got past the evolution junk, told me things I’d never imagined that happened through the ages.
The first historical fiction book I wrote mirrored the kind I like to read for relaxation, a no-brainer yet suspenseful romantic story. Think Rebecca and you’ve got the idea. Then I became interested in writing middle grade fiction and combined the two loves of history and fiction for that age.
Whether I write for adults or children, it requires a lot of research, which I also love doing. Since editors look for writers who use primary sources for research, finding the little obscure journals, biographies and letters from the years before e-mail and texting are like discovering gold. Some can be found in used books, some on the internet, and others handed down through the generations of family and friends.
When people ask you “Where do you get your ideas?” you can answer, “From the whole world and its history.” Hopefully, one of these days I’ll have an excited youngster ask me that question after reading one of my books.
-Contributed by Shirley Shibley