of writing my first historical fiction novel, The River Girl's Song, set in the 1880's. When I first thought of my story idea, I was going to make the setting somewhere on the prairie. Then I realized... I had never been to the prairie. Since a road trip wasn't in my budget, I decided to base the book in my own, small town, over 135 years ago.
So began a wonderful journey, looking through websites, newspaper articles and books. I have learned so many amazing things about Bastrop, TX, and there's enough material for hundreds of book ideas for later.
But I think many people would be surprised to know much of my material isn't from history, at least not that far back. Many of my main character, Zillia's experiences are based on things that happened to me, or at least aspects of my own life. My family was a large one. I am the oldest of seven children, and we grew up fairly poor. At one point we actually lived in a dilapidated house with no windows. I lived in a tent for awhile to keep out bats. So dealing with Texas extreme temperatures was a way of life for me when I was sixteen... even in the nineties.
My family also spent a lot of time by the Colorado River, the "River Girl's" home. We swung on grapevine and eat cactus apple, dewberry and Mustang Grape jelly. We had goats more than once, and had to chase off wild dogs and snakes. I still live withing spitting distance of the Colorado, and enjoy taking my children to hike along it's leafy green shores.
The story is about a young girl's determination and courage to figure things out and make it, with God's grace. I think most people have had those times in their lives where answers don't come easily and we finally have to cry out to our Creator for help and healing.
What aspects of your own life have you used in your writing?