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Writing good historical fiction can be a real challenge! Nicole Loughan tells us how she went about writing Divine Hotel.
Keeping It Real
by Nicole Loughan
Diana Gabaldon is doing it, Dan Brown is doing it, now I’m doing it too.
I finally dipped my toes into writing historical fiction and the water is fine. Deriving inspiration from our collective history is exciting. I think it helps people automatically connect to the material, regardless of content, but it doesn’t hurt for the content to be good as well. When authors write about the familiar, even with books like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, it creates a picture in our mind whether we want it to or not. We know Abraham Lincoln and with a catchy title like that it gives us just enough information to want to know more.
But writing about real history is tricky. For me, I was writing about a history which was not my own, and which was very familiar and dear to the people who lived it. Also, since I did not reach very far back in time many of the people who lived it are still around. I relied on research and old photos to form a picture of what it might have been like to live in Philadelphia in the 1960s and I tried to tread carefully on dearly held memories. One example, in my book I write about an old department store. When I told people I had written about this store, there were definite opinions on what the characters did there and what the store looked like, I had gotten some of the details wrong and made changes to correct it.
In my previous books, The Saints Mystery Series, I wrote complete fiction based in the Bayous of Louisiana. All of the events were completely fabricated, and it was completely clear that the situations were made up. I did still have to be careful about the culture. The books focused on two Cajun families and I wanted to be careful about showing Cajun culture without trampling on people’s heritage.
Overall, I found writing about history and historical fiction exciting and challenging. I spent several weeks researching Philadelphia in the 1960s, no easy feat as much of the historical nuance is not recorded. You need to hear it from the people who were there. For example, that store I talked about in Philadelphia is known by people from Philadelphia as Wannamaker, but if you search the internet it will tell you that store was called Strawbridges. People still call the building Wannamaker’s today even though it’s a Macy’s. That’s the sort of detail you just can’t find in an internet search.
I have so much more respect for writers who make the choice to explore history with fiction, it’s very hard to navigate the waters of the real world with a fictional captain.
You can find Nicole’s latest book Divine Hotel for sale on Amazon for an introductory $2.99 special. Her Saint’s Mystery Series are also available on Amazon starting with To Murder a Saint.
Divine Series, Book 1
Genre: Time Travel/ Mystery
Publisher: Can’t Put it Down Books
Date of Publication: 03/28/2016
Cover Artist: Genevieve LaVO
Time is running out for Philadelphia’s Divine Hotel…One woman is tasked with saving two children who lived at the once majestic hotel but she soon learns that there is more to their history and the hotel than she ever thought possible. To save them she’s going to have to re-set the clock for everybody at the hotel and the only way to do that is to go all the way back to 1964. Righting the wrongs of the past will be no easy feat, because there are those willing to fight to keep their sins buried in history.
About the Author
You may know Nicole as the syndicated humor columnist, “The Starter Mom,” or from her Best-Selling Saints Mystery Novels. Because of the series’ popularity, Amazon chose it for their Stipend Program to be turned into an audiobook at their expense.
An award-winning journalist and author, she was recognized by Writer's Digest as a top fiction writer in 2015 and won honorable mention in genre fiction from the Writer's Digest annual self-publishing competition for her Saints Mystery Series.
Nicole writes for two daily newspapers in the greater Philadelphia area and as a columnist for Happenings Media. Prior to working as a writer, Nicole was an Agency Social Worker for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, where she first learned about the subject of her latest novel, Divine Hotel.
Nicole grew up on a rural farm in Southern Michigan, but she was always a city girl at heart. She still has a penchant for straight-from-the-dairy cheese, but otherwise prefers to spend her days in New York and Philadelphia and her adopted hometown in Bucks County. The mother of two, she is a soprano in The Bucks County Woman’s Chorus and an amateur pianist.
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