The members of The Writer's Circle, a Thunder Bay writing group, have invited me to talk with them at their November meeting--it's the 27th at 7 PM at the Waverley Branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library.
I'll of course answer any questions they might have, but I'm planning to speak about some of the following questions: why write about this war (and how did I do it), and why set half of the book in the summer of 1955 in Port Arthur.
Of course, the underlying, unanswerable question that I will, nonetheless, attempt to answer: How do you DO it? How do you write a historical novel?
Here's what I'll say.
Start with an event in history that you are, yourself, interested in. Read a lot about it. This is why you need to be interested in it--you'll be spending a lot of time with it.
Develop a central character who will be changed by this thing, this event, this time period. Who is this character? Where does s/he start, and where does s/he end up?
Then, more fun: more in-depth and focused research on the time period and places.
At some point, you have to start the actual writing part. My way is to organize it in your head, and just start writing it.
Once you have a chronology of the character moving through the event, you can play with the order of events--add a prologue or tweak the order in which the reader learns about events.
It's that easy, and that complicated.
So that's what I'll say to those writers, who are so kind as to invite me. Meanwhile, my publisher and I are working on a new novel, one NOT about the Finnish Civil War. More about that later.