This month for Round Robin we are discussing what time periods our muses prefer. Do they prefer past, present, or future? Are there problems and/or advantages of that choice? And whether we’d like to change?
My muse isn’t picky with time periods. She likes them all–although I haven’t written any in the future yet. (Shhh… don’t tell her.) I do write contemporary romance, but she loves historical pieces. (I have an idea for 12th century France as well as one for Viking…) But not just any historical period. No. She’s fascinated with ones that have very little information available, that require a lot of digging and creative research to get that kind of information. Matter of fact, the harder time periods are to research, the more excited she is.
No, I’m not kidding.
Although I’m currently writing a contemporary romance, so the research is less intense, it’s still set in Tahiti. My honeymoon inspired this location (that and, someday, I want to stay in one of those over the water bungalows). My muse glommed onto the location and said, “Perfect for a hot romance.”
Of course, she’s right, but the research… If only I could travel there because, really, I need more firsthand experience. (grin) That being said, my most recent release is set in the early 60s. Not in the States or Britain or even Europe. Noooo…. that would be too easy. Instead, it’s–(fanfare here)
On October 6th, I released a short story (wolf shifter) I wrote for a charity anthology titled Some Place to Belong: Book 1 of Children of the Wild. As you may have guessed from the header of this section, it’s set in Argentina in the early 60s. At the time of writing (some 8 plus years ago), finding information about Argentina during that time wasn’t particularly easy. As luck would have it, my neighbors hail from there. As my muse set much of the story in the jungle, the fact that he’s a horticulturalist who studied there helped a great deal. He read it and let me know what to fix, etc. In that case, I lucked out.
The story began in Nazi Germany with medical experimentation. This required a bit of research as well, but not as much. When did in vitro fertilization become something we could do? (Yes, combining species like this probably wouldn’t work without splicing genes, but I’m writing fiction, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nazi tried this.) Where was I most likely to find Hitler and Mengele?
Two different time periods in the same book. Neither truly related.
Why Argentina? Well, the Nazis fled Europe after WWII to South America. Many of them ended up in Argentina. At one point, Mengele also lived in Argentina. These were facts I knew before my muse latched onto this story, pulled all of this together, and said, “Now you must research because you’re going to write this.” Mwahahaha! (Muses can be very demanding.)
You would think that contemporary would be easier, but it only sometimes. It depends on multiple things. How well you know the setting, how well you know their job, etc. With Tahitian Nights, my current WIP, I was familiar with Tahiti because I’d visited it. So, describing the water and Bora Bora isn’t that difficult. Describing the culture, how the law works, etc. that’s where it becomes tricky.
And research of any kind, for all of the time periods, sucks time. Truly. All authors know the giant blackhole that calls itself Google. If Google doesn’t satisfy (it does happen), then another blackhole beckons: the library. All those lovely books… Many of them not necessarily what I’m looking for either but just as enticing.
For me, whether it’s contemporary or historical, I have yet to write a book that doesn’t require some research. I imagine most of my fellow authors will say the same.