Hey everyone! The Timeless Tour is back again today with a guest post from Canadian author Genevieve Graham, who’s book Come from Away is featured on the tour. For this stop she talks about why writing Canadian historical fic is important to her and which time period(s) suck her in the most while researching! 🙂
Why writing Canadian historical fic is important to you
I love reading historical fiction of all kinds, but the switch to focusing on Canadian history happened in 2013 while I was writing “Tides of Honour”. The more I learned about our country, the more I needed to know. We know all about American and European history, but there are so many important moments and people in our own country’s past, and we know so little of them. The first one for me was the Halifax Explosion. Granted, I hadn’t been interested in history for the first forty years of my life, but it still shocks me now that I had never heard of the largest manmade explosion in the world before Hiroshima, and it took place in my own country. Since I was a recent transplant to Nova Scotia, I wrote to some of my friends “out West” and asked if they knew about the Halifax Explosion. Most didn’t. Worse than that, our daughters were graduating from a Nova Scotia high school at around that time, and they knew nothing about it. Next I learned about the Acadian Expulsion (prompted by a visit to the beautiful Grand Pré Historic Site out here and by the fact that I am surrounded by Acadian neighbours). When I asked around, I was once again met by a lot of blank faces – though my Acadian readers were overjoyed to see their story brought to light.
Why is it we know so much about other people’s history and not our own? What will happen to Canadian history if no one is interested in learning about it? There are so many stories out there, and I see no reason to wait around and let someone else write them for us … like, for example, did you know the Klondike Gold Rush took place in Canada? Oddly, American productions of the fascinating world of Dawson City feature gun fights, and yet because of our very own Mounties, there was no “wild West” atmosphere up there. No sir! The Mounties didn’t allow any sort of rifle or handgun past them, and in 1898 there was not even one murder in the place.
When I ask people if they know about specific moments or people in Canada’s history, the answer is usually ‘no’. And that’s fair, because until I do my own research, I have no idea either. We just don’t talk about Canada’s history very much, and it’s fading away more every day. Well, I’m setting out to change all that. Historical fiction is the perfect vehicle to reach people who may not yet know about our past and compel them to learn more.
Time periods you’re most likely to “fall down the rabbit hole” while researching and why
Wow. All of them. Every time I write a book in a different era or area I find more holes to explore! I could spend all day wandering around like Alice. I have to say that while I learn lots with every time period, I generally have more fun with the later books because I can actually watch and hear recordings of people from back then. While I worked on COME FROM AWAY, I viewed hours of WW2 Navy footage, listened to dozens of oral histories and radio interviews from the 1940s, watched the WReNS (Womens Royal Canadian Navy Service) propaganda videos, learned about the Merchant Navy and U-Boats … so much great stuff! I needed to know about the non-military life as well, so in addition to day to day news of the time, I was perusing 1940s recipes, music, fashion … oh, I was so close to buying myself the perfect little “pin-up girl” dress!