Give Me Some History

June 18, 2012

Although I wanted to do nothing but write, I did very little writing last week. No, that’s wrong. I did NO writing last week. My little job at the sewing store, where I usually work seven to twelve hours, suddenly became full time, when my boss broke her hand and her number one girl was gone for the week. The hours were all over the place. Some days I opened, some I closed, and I actually worked seven days in a row, Sunday through Saturday. It was a week that made me appreciate how hard my hunky hubby always works, and I think it was a week that made him appreciate how hard I usually work at home.

Susanne came into the store to look at sewing machines, and as I always do, I asked her what kind of sewing she would be doing…it makes a difference in the machines I show the customer. Susanne begins to tell me about the Victorian costumes she makes, primarily for herself, but also for a few customers. Susanne and her husband have been involved in Civil War reenactments for about thirty years, and over the years she’s learned a lot about Victorian fashion and other details of Victorian life. We talked for nearly an hour, then they were off to finish their errands and I had some other work to do in the store. Just before time for me to leave, Susanne returned with a turn of the century ladies jacket she had made, and a thick book that she uses for presentations on the Victorian lifestyle.
She talked about the layers of garments ladies had to wear during the Victorian time period, the difference in fashion from hoop skirts to bustles. She talked about the etiquette of fashion, yes, there was an etiquette that we no longer deal with, and even some very tragic fashion stories. And, did you know that women had a whole language they used to talk to men with their fans?
Now if I wasn’t a writer I’d have been fascinated, but as a writer…and someone who sews, Susanne was an exciting person to have walk into the store.
My current work in progress has a 1920’s element to it and a strong fashion element as well. The heroine is a fashion designer. But, Susanne’s visit has me considering a Victorian romance for my next manuscript. What a valuable resource she could be.
I’ve always been fascinated with history, and love to read historical romance. How many of you read historical? How many of you write historical? Where do you find your research? I hope you’ll share…


6 Responses to “Give Me Some History”

  1. Louisa Bacio Says:

    No historical here, but having a vampire that’s 180 years old, he’s seen a lot of history. So I’ve had to do some research about what New Orleans was like in different periods. Sounds like a great resource!

  2. taristhread Says:

    Louisa! What fun to research New Orleans!! And yes, I think Susanne could be a great resource and possibly a speaker for OCC!!

  3. nicolehelm Says:

    My first attempts at writing were historical because my favorite books then were Little House on the Prairie and Little Women. I actually minored in U.S History in college. But, I found getting the historical detail just right in fiction was too overwhelming for me, so I switched to contemporary. I am always in awe of historical authors and how they manage to balance research and writing. I’d be hopeless at it.

  4. taristhread Says:

    Nicole-I think historical has to be challenging, but I love history. Like I said there’s a little 1920’s history in my WIP, and the book I really want to work on next has a lot more 1920’s to it…and yet, I think it would be classified as a contemporary…we’ll see. I do love museums, and the feel of historic places and items….who knows what will end happen….

  5. I would love to write historical. I started reading historical romances by Judith McNaught as my intro to romantic fiction. I’ve thought about writing a Tudor-era romance, but I’m such an armchair scholar that I’m afraid I couldn’t paint a happily ever after within those confines. Plus, it would be like learning a new craft. A good historical romance is hard to write.


  6. I’m writing a novel about five girls in 1965. You’d think I’d remember a lot, but actually I was amazed at how much I’ve forgotten. When I try to research, well, it’s amazing how the only things everyone else remembers about that time are hippies and Viet Nam. They ask me if we smoked pot and wore miniskirts, and I say, “Hell no!” Our skirts were just above our knees which was racy enough for the time, we never heard of marijuana, we watched “Bonanza” and Walter Cronkite and danced the Frug. I’ve got about thirty books now, most of which are useless except for a page or paragraph here and there. But I keep “googling”!

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