Writing Historical Fiction: Planting a Victory Garden

Another amazing cover from Dara England for LFD Designs for Authors.

I’ve been burning the midnight oil getting Victory Garden ready for public consumption, and it seems to be working. The novel should be ready for download on Tuesday, July 24. I’ll post here, on FB, and Twitter when it’s ready.

For those of you who are enjoying the first two books of the Loving Husband Trilogy, you’ll find Victory Garden to be a change of pace. There aren’t any vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts, or other paranormal elements. Both Rose Scofield and Adam Bell are fully human. There’s no complicated plot twisting between the past and the present—the whole story takes place between the years 1917 and 1921. It begins at the beginning and ends at the end, all told in first person narrative from Rose’s point of view.

In fact, Victory Garden predates the Loving Husband Trilogy by a full thirteen years. Rose Scofield’s story was inspired by a news report I saw on television during the 1996 presidential election where it was said women were voting in small numbers. Being the history buff I am, my thoughts immediately turned to a story I read years before (it may have even been in elementary school) about women who were arrested and force fed for fighting for the right to vote. Have we come so far in 76 years, I wondered, that women no longer want to vote when their grandmothers and great-grandmothers went to jail for that right? After kicking the idea around for a while, Victory Garden was born. I began writing it in 1997 and finished about a year later.

The novel is slightly on the short side at about 70,000 words. As I was getting the book ready for publication I thought about making it longer, but then I decided I didn’t want to add words just for the sake of adding words. In many ways, it’s a coming of age story for Rose as she struggles to navigate her own path in a time when women were expected to be subservient. She works for the suffrage movement, doing her part to make votes for women a reality, and in her determination to be strong she denies what she really wants—vaudeville actor Adam Bell—for fear it will make her weak.

Nearly everything I write is romantic in one way or another. While I can’t call my stories romances because they don’t follow the romance formula, they’re all romantic. I’m fascinated by how people fall in love. Not how they fall in like, attraction, or lust. Those are all wonderful in their own ways, but as a writer I’m more intrigued by the ever elusive love, true love, the kind that sticks for lifetimes and, in the case of James and Sarah, beyond. Sometimes, like James and Sarah, we accept true love with an open heart when it appears. Other times, like Rose, we fight it because we can’t see our own truth even when it’s staring us in the face. The destination is the same—falling in love—but the journey to get there is different for everyone.

For those of you hoping for more of the same as you see in the Loving Husband books, you’ll find history, romance, and that literary crazy-style you’ve come to expect from me. But even though Rose’s story is different from James and Sarah’s, I hope you’ll still enjoy it. Rose, in her fight for women’s rights, in her struggle to live on her own terms, shows us how far we’ve come as women, and how far we still need to go.