Friday, January 29, 2016

Historical Fiction: Researching Your Novel Successfully by Sara R. Turnquist

Hello, this is Sara R. Turnquist. I fight dragons off when they scare my daughter, I mop up milk
messes when my little boy spills his cup, and I dry many, many tears throughout the day. To top it all of, I write Historical Fiction. I know Hannah has a passion for history, so she can relate to my own heartbeat after this genre. Today, I want to delve into some of the pieces that make Historical Fiction unique among other genres.

RESEARCH. Writing may be a bear, but writing historical fiction is a whole different animal. Not that it’s more difficult, just different. All writing requires research. But, as you can imagine, the research for historical fiction is on another level. Not only do you have to dig into the settings, for example, you have to find out what it was like during the time period you are writing in. That can be tricky. Is that information even available? Thanks to the internet, there is more information at your fingertips, but there are many, many rabbit trails awaiting you. And a lot of false information out there. Contrary to popular belief, not everything on the internet is true :). So, you are researching setting, weather/seasons, along with facts and events. But, again, you must be careful what resources you use. Wikipedia is a great place to start, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on that information. Look at their references at the bottom of the page and utilize those sources. They are likely better places to get the ball rolling on your research.

Author Sara R. Turnquist
REMEMBER IT’S STILL ABOUT YOUR STORY. Now that you’ve got your research under your belt, how do you weave it into your story? The historical information should support your story, not the other way around. Your story is the reason people are reading your book. If they wanted to learn about the Ptolemaic Period in Egypt, for example, they would probably seek out a textbook. But they are more interested in your characters and the challenges they are facing, their plight. The twists and turns that you, the author, have waiting for them. So, stay true to your story. Let the research guide you and inspire you, yes, but not to the point where it becomes overbearing in your story. Again, weave the details into your story. You want to be as historically accurate as you can be, but do not lose sight of that spark, the initial nugget, the gem that started you on this journey – your original idea.

IT’S ABOUT REAL LIFE. The other thing about Historical Fiction that I find is unique (and I might be overstepping here) is that these happenings that you discover along the way are real. These things occurred. Real people suffered and died. For me, it pulls at my heartstrings and can make it challenging to write sometimes. Because I want to respect those who endured such hardships and be responsible with the information. One of my works in progress is about the Trail of Tears, for example. What a struggle it has been to write about the atrocities the Cherokee faced! But their story needs to be told. For so many reasons.
I truly could go on and on. My novel that just came out, “The General’s Wife” takes place during a
period in history that holds particular fascination for me – the Ptolemaic Period in ancient Egypt. That is the backdrop and the support for the story of a young woman torn from her home and her first love, an arranged marriage, a journey of self-discovery, and this woman’s strength of spirit against those who would despise and resist her very presence among them.

Was there a lot of research? You bet. Was it a dance between information and story? Yes. Were there times it was harder to write? Well, in a sense, yes. Not the same as for the Trail of Tears novel. Capturing the combat aspects of “The General’s Wife” was challenging because I don’t have the military experience that Hannah does :). Yet, as any other writer, I strove to hone my craft through the process. That is what it’s all about.
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The Fun Continues as We Chat a Bit More with Sara!

As a parent, I know it can be hard to find and make that time to write. So how do you do it? Do you have a favorite time of the day to write? 

Sara:  I schedule my writing time around my kiddos. When they are in “quiet time” (thank you, Jesus!) or when they’re at preschool/school.

Also as a parent...well, sometimes the messes to clean up and organize are endless! Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? (ie I can’t stand to fold socks. Supreme Torture!) 

Sara:Ugh! The dishes!

As a fellow writer, I think we can both agree that storylines of different genres kind of float around in our heads. If were to switch writing genres, which one would you choose to write your next novel? 

Sara: Maybe Science Fiction?

Before we go, let’s play a game of Sara's Favorites!

Favorite Dessert: pie
Favorite Restaurant: Liberty Park Grille
Favorite Branch of the Military (I won’t judge you if say anything other than Army, lol ) : Marines
Favorite Genre of Music: Christian
Favorite Subject in School: Drama

Sara, thanks for being a guest with us today and for providing EXCELLENT information on researching material that can be applied to many genres. THANK YOU! :) 

Readers, enter to win an e-copy of Sara's latest novel, 
"The General's Wife" below:  

Twitter:  @sarat1701


Friday, January 22, 2016

New Release Novel Spotlight: The General's Wife by Sara R. Turnquist

 The General's Wife
 by Sara R. Turnquist 

New Book Release & Excerpt!!!!!

Ismene, a beautiful, somewhat na├»ve, young noblewoman, is torn from her childhood home in Greece and her first love. Bound by honor and duty, she marries Pharaoh’s chief military commander, Alistair. Though determined to remain true to the man she left behind, her new husband stirs feelings in her she cannot ignore.

Attempting to accept this brazen new culture, it isn't long before she discovers that the locals don't like her. The Alexandrian mob starts making anonymous threats. This faceless group will stop at nothing to achieve its goal of driving out the unwelcome Greeks. In the midst of these heightening attacks, the general must leave for battle. Ismene fears that she is on her own.

Evidence of a spy within her own household arises. It soon becomes apparent that one of these Egyptian rebels wants her dead. The safety of Ismene, and possibly the entire ruling class of Egypt, hangs in the balance.
Sara has been a guest on my blog before, and I am delighted to have her return, especially with a new book release to share with us! Sara will join us again next week as well!  

So, Sara! Welcome! Let's get started! The General's wife is Historical Fiction?
     Yes, but there is definitely a romance in the book that drives the story.

Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story? I'm all about some history.
      Well, my favorite thing that I uncovered was that Ptolemy II was a great supporter of the Library of Alexandria. In fact, he was on a mission to see the collection within grown to something like 500,000 scrolls. Not only that, it was during his reign that the Septuagint was written. This was the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek.
What was your inspiration for The General’s Wife?
     I’m going to share a little secret with you…I hated history as a high school/college student. But I excelled at it. The only thing I ever enjoyed about history was Egyptian history. I devoured everything my teachers/professors shared about ancient Egypt. And I clearly remember the first time I heard about this period (the Ptolemaic period). I was amazed – Greeks ruling Egypt as Pharaohs!?!? And so I happily delved into any and all resources I could come across. Be they museum, book, discovery channel movie…you name it.

I love history, historical fiction, and I know a lot of readers do as well...especially such an interesting time frame. You've done your research! Lots going on back then!!! And being an Army wife, you know I LOVE the military element to your story!

Thank you for being with us today and sharing your latest release, and we can't wait to hear from you again next week! 

Sara is originally from Clarksville, TN where she currently resides with her family. She enjoys writing and spending time with her family traveling. Sara is the author of The Lady Bornekova and a member of the ACFW.


Readers can pick up a copy of The General's Wife through any of the following venues:

Enjoy and excerpt from The General's Wife: 
A frown was etched into Alistair's features. The sight before him caused his whole body to tense up. It was a sight that had greeted his staff early that morning. Neterka had been the only one brave enough to bring him out there to see it.
“Get it off,” he said, each word enunciated and pushed out of his mouth with force. There were plenty of servants gathered around, but he spoke to no one in particular.
On the inner wall of their great garden two symbols, two words, were splayed across the wall in what could only be blood. The thick, red, viscous liquid had dried as it ran, in stripes reaching to the ground.
A din of whispered conversation among the servants could be heard, but only just. No one wanted to speak out for fear of enraging the general further. Many of the servants were unable to read Greek and had no idea what important message was scarred into their master's most prized sanctuary. As if the vandalism alone wasn't enough to evoke a great anger in him, the message itself had pushed him closer to the edge of violence. They had never seen their kind master in such a state.
“What is everybody...” Ismene's voice interrupted their musings. No one, not even Alistair, had even noticed that she had arrived at the grand estate, least of all made it all the way out to the gardens. Her voice, which started light and happy, trailed off as she noticed the source of everyone's fixation.
There were many audible gasps as the servants, like Alistair, turned and saw Ismene's paled face, her mouth moving as if trying to form words, though none came forth.
Alistair rushed over to her, “Ismene, don't's...” he said, trying to turn her away, to go back in direction she had just come.
It was only then that he realized—the message—it was for her. Ismene and Alonah came to the gardens each day to check on her tiger lilies. This wall faced the entrance into the gardens closest to her bedchambers, the entrance she came through every day. How did anyone outside of his house and Pharaoh's know that? His heart sank. There was a leak in one of these houses.
Ismene stood her ground, refusing to let Alistair turn her away. She was shaking.
“Who...what...I don't understand,” she managed after several seconds. As she glanced up at him, he could see tears in her dark eyes as she repeated the terrible words that were written there. “Go home?”
His heart ached for her.
“Who wants me to go home?” she asked, voice breaking, clearly injured by the implications.
He pulled her into his firm embrace.
She began to cry.
“Shh, shh.” He soothed her, rubbing her shoulders. “It's all right. It doesn't mean anything.”
He knew it wasn't all right. She was in a foreign land, a place she was still having great difficulty adjusting to—a place where she was surrounded by people she didn't know and who were so different from her. She was still adapting to these new people, a new culture, a new way of doing things, a new government...a new way of life. This must have been her worst fear confirmed. Not only did she not know these people, not only were they foreign in many ways, they did not want her here.
He kissed the top of her head. “Don't give it any thought, Ismene. Remember last night. Remember how the people cheered for you. They loved you!”
Her crying stilled for a moment.
“This is the work of one person who is dissatisfied with me and is doing this to get back at me. This is not about you. I promise,” he lied. He was quite certain this was at least the truth in part. But he feared that it may be the work of the Alexandrian mob and it may well be aimed at her.
Ismene allowed him to comfort her a little longer, but before he was ready to let go, she started to pull away. With reluctance, he released his hold on her. He then tugged on her arm more firmly until she was facing the direction she had just come, her back to the wall and the horrible message.
“Alonah, please take the Lady Ismene to her bedchambers. I'll have some refreshments brought for her.” He made sure that there was no room for argument in his voice.
Alonah took Ismene's arm and led her back inside, away from the small crowd and the offensive markings.
Alistair watched them go. Once they were inside and a safe distance away, he spun back toward the small crowd of servants.
“Get. It. Off.” His voice sharp and his words heated; the words penetrated the air, thick with apprehension, before he stormed off.