When I’m writing fiction I know that anything can serve as inspiration. Television, movies, music, books, and travel all help me generate story ideas. For a story like Her Dear and Loving Husband, which goes back and forth between the past and the present, I had to learn about what life was like in Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692, but I also needed a sense of what life looked like in Salem, Massachusetts now.
Understanding present-day Salem was an easier task. Though I hadn’t visited Salem while writing Her Dear and Loving Husband (the Salem trip didn’t come until I started writing Her Loving Husband’s Curse), I used Salem websites and Google Earth to help me get a vision of what today’s Salem looks like. You can read about my trip to Salem here and here. Seventeenth century Salem was harder to grasp. Of course, there are many accounts of the Salem Witch Trials, but not a lot about the specifics of people’s day to day lives.
Not only did I have to understand Salem and the witch hunts, I also had to have some sense of what it meant to be a vampire. All authors who write about anything fantastical–vampires, witches, werewolves, mermaids, time travel, whatever–get to define the boundaries of their magical worlds. That’s why world building in fiction is fun. Anything goes as long as we’re able to make the world believable for our readers.
Here are some of the resources I used to help me write Her Dear and Loving Husband:
The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach
Six Women of Salem by Marilynne K. Roach
Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind The 1692 Witch Hunt by Diane Foulds
Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins
The fiction I read for Her Dear and Loving Husband was mostly vampire fiction since I wasn’t familiar with vampire novels except for Twilight. I wanted to see what other authors had done with their paranormal characters to get some inspiration for my (usually) daylight-avoiding James.
The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Steakhouse Book 1) by Charlaine Harris
Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice
Dracula by Bram Stoker (who can avoid this classic when writing about vampires?)
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Once Bitten by Kalayna Price
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Television and Film:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller (yes, I read and watched it)
True Blood on HBO–as it turns out, True Blood was the biggest inspiration for Her Dear and Loving Husband
The Twilight movies
Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman
Music was a challenge for me with Her Dear and Loving Husband. Although I didn’t include any music in Her Dear and Loving Husband, it was always there for me in the background, and I listened to music while writing. I usually listen to music from the historical era I’m writing about to help me get in the right frame of mind, but since I was writing about the Salem Witch Trials then I was researching Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In such a stern society that placed all its hope in the afterlife, music played little role other than church hymnals (if even those since I’ve read conflicting accounts: some say they sang hymnals, others say they didn’t because even church music represented too much of an earthly pleasure). I discovered some hymnals that were popular in England in the 17th century, but the Puritans left England because they wanted to purify what they believed was the Catholic influences on the Church of England, so I doubted those would be popular in Salem Village. I’m looking again for music while I’m writing Down Salem Way, so maybe I’ll uncover some new information.
As for present-day Salem, well, that would be the same music I was listening to. I imagined James, with his classical tastes, would listen to the great composers like Mozart (my personal favorite) and Chopin so I listened to some classical music, which I normally do anyway. Sarah, I imagined, would have more modern tastes, so I listened to my own current faves. I have eclectic music tastes, so I listened to everything from The Beatles to Hootie and the Blowfish to Josh Groban to Kings of Leon (like I said, I have eclectic tastes).
I talked in this post about how I used Pinterest and travel to help me write When It Rained at Hembry Castle. Though I didn’t use either for Her Dear and Loving Husband, I use both now for every new novel and I highly recommend making boards for your books on Pinterest. I have a board for the Loving Husband Trilogy now, and if you’d like to see it you can visit it here. There’s also a board for Down Salem Way. If you can travel to the place you’re writing about, then do. It makes all the difference, as I learned when I was writing Her Loving Husband’s Curse and finally made it to Salem.
I wasn’t familiar with either vampires or the Salem Witch Trials when I started writing Her Dear and Loving Husband. Learning about both helped me write the story about eternal love I saw so strongly in my mind’s eye. Reading these books, watching these shows and films, and finding music that inspired me while I was writing gave me fuel for the fire that Her Dear and Loving Husband sparked in my heart.