Friday, January 27, 2012

Researching The Historical--The Human Connection

Its Friday, and that is research day for me!!! I love research, flipping through costume books, and English tourbooks. Surfing the net for bits of gossip, and snippets of reports.
It is usually a fun filled day where one fact leads me to another link, and then another, and then before I know it I am on a bender, completely off course, researching things I have no business researching! but that is not the case today. Today I am brushing up on my coal mining knowledge.

I come from miners. My great grandfather was born in Glasgow and worked in the mining industry. When he emigrated from Scotland to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, with his family they settled in Sydney Mines. he picked up his axe and headed down to the coal mines. Upon vacation there, I was struck by the desolation, the bleakness of it--as I recall in my eleven year old mind. And it was scary. Downright terrifying to be so far beneath the ground. But its a proud tradition to have in your family, and its a pride amongst the colliers.

As a nod to my family, the hero of my first Westlake book (yes, that new series) is a man of common birth, who as a young child was forced down into the mines at Newcastle. I have spent some time researching the mines, the equipment, the owners and their often brutal treatment of their employees. I have learned the conditions of the mines, and yes, it all gave me pause, thinking how horrible the conditions were that these men and women were forced into. I have jotted down the medical issues that plagued these human souls, and wondered how they continued to work while ill. No paid sick days then!

But then I came across some interesting links that talked about children working in the mines, some as young as five years old. I cannot imagine it. In fact cannot fathom the hell they endured. My daughter feels hell is having her iPod battery go dead during a game of Angry Birds for crying out loud!

So, today was the human condition when it comes to researching a historical novel. Often times these dark and gritty realities are glossed over, but I am never one to gloss over that. For me, being faithful to an era, or a vocation is th only way to be. That is the beauty of writing historical, the glamour and romance of an idealized era, juxtaposed with the grim, and harsh realities of those who are so often on the fringe of the romance novel, when in life, they were truly the backbone of the nation.

If you are looking for something truly fascinating, something to bring you immediately back in time, read these short accounts from the mines, all children, told in their own words. Fascinating...heartbreaking, and so inspiring!

Be Well!


Shelley B said...

I didn't realize all the work that goes into researching for a book. I'm a retired teacher, so I like for my novels to be historically accurate.I appreciate the extra mile put in to make the books more realistic. Thanks!

Punya said...

Hi Ms. Featherstone. Haven't heard from you a long time! Hope you're doing well. Just wanted to let you know that I read an ARC of Temptation & Twilight and honestly speaking, Iain and Elizabeth are my favorite pair of this series. LOVED the book and the final twist of the Orpheus mystery. I have a review up in my blog and GR as well. Excellent one again. Eagerly awaiting your next release. Please update soon.

Terry Edwards said...

Hello Ms. Featherstone

It is now 2015 and your keyboard has been silent.

We miss you.

Suzanne said...

Dear Ms. Featherstone,

Have heard nothing from you since 2012. Hope all is well. You are missed.

Suzanne said...

Dear Ms Featherstone,

Haven't heard from you since 2012. Hope all is well. You are very missed.

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