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Hi All, as someone new to attempting the noble art of writing historical fiction I've joined to gain understanding from your experience. I got hooked while on holiday in Morocco. I'd always known that the general who defeated Boudicca had crossed the Atlas. After our trip over the Atlas I started scribbling, but checked in Pliny and was bowled over by the fact that Pliny's description exactly matched the rocks and mountains that I had seen. I'd be interested to know how you pick up on the pictures from the past and compare them with the sights today?


  • Interesting! I'm not sure I've had anything quite comparable happen to me, but living in the city I'm writing about is similar in a way. You know how anywhere you've spent much time builds up layers of associations and memories, whether it be of an argument here, a kiss there, a picnic with friends or hearing bad news. Well when I walk around York I have two decades of my own experiences, plus a considerable cast of ancestors and their activities- suffragettes selling their newspaper and chalking the pavements on this corner, a laundress 3x great-grandmother buried over there, a headmaster of this school and the village green where the opposing cricket team threw stones at him. Then there's the fictional characters I've read about, some of them vivid enough to walk the streets with me. And now also my own research and writing, very much based on real people and events in this city. It makes for a fantastically muddled stroll through town at times.

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    • Hi, Anthony. I also am working on my first novel and, yes, historical fiction. I was drawn to this when I inherited photos when my parents' passed away and found a world of images from Germany pre-WWI and then from my father's time working in Alaska for the CCCs during WWII and my mother's life in Edmonton during WWII. That got me to thinking about using them as models for a novel set in that time period and based on their meeting. The twist I made was to set the first part of the story in Marfa, Texas. I am not from Texas but when I spent some time in Marfa the austere beauty of the landscape and the scrappiness of the people 'got into my blood' so I now have a story with about 9 chapters based in Marfa.

      I write the above to say that I, too, was on vacation and found an area that I wanted to write about, an area I know very little of and one that I wanted to portray in the latter years of the Great Depression and WWII. What I have from the sights of today in Marfa and Edmonton is the landscape, the weather, the smells, etc. These areas of my 'current' knowledge and experience of the places help me to walk them back in the 30's and 40s, and I have added to that through research of how people lived, entertained themselves, travelled, etc. in those times. 

      So in response to your question, I would say that your current experience of what really is much the same in the areas of Morocco forms a wonderful base from which to create the foundation of your story and then to build upon that with some historical aspects of the time period that help to create your story. And, importantly, to remember that you can make some parts of the history up, too, if it serves the story to zig and zag a bit on the facts.

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