her website or Facebook page.
Elaine, you grew up in Massachusetts, but currently live in the Midwest. Was it difficult to write about an area that you’re not near, or do you know it so well the writing and descriptions came naturally?
Although I no longer live there, Massachusetts still lives in my heart. I can still envision the woods near my home where I used to play and can easily describe the sites and sounds. When I need more details like what kinds of trees were growing or what foods they ate 200 years ago, I just put on my researchers’ “cap” and start investigating. I’ve also made a few trips to the area to gather more information, especially about the Armory in Springfield. That particular piece of history took lots of help from the historian there, as well as perusing the archives in the Springfield Museum.
What do you enjoy most about reading and writing historical fiction?
I love gathering the pieces of research and then allowing the characters to fill in the dialogue and develop their story. It’s like watching a painting unfold on a canvas, only the medium used is words rather than oils and watercolors.
Historical fiction requires a lot of research. What’s the most interesting (or unusual, or funny) thing you’ve done in the name of research for a book?
One thing that I did for The Road to Deer Run was find some slippery elm powder at a health food store so I could see how it worked. One of the characters in Road uses slippery elm on a wound. The powder is made from the bark of the elm tree and, when mixed with water, forms into a mucilage-like paste that can be used on cuts or chapped hands. Since my hands are quite chapped in the winter, I spread it all over them and allowed it to dry. Of course, once it dried, then there were little bits of “wood” covering my hands that I had to wash off. And they don’t call it “slippery” for nothing when it’s wet! LOL
What a great story! Now that the Deer Run saga is complete, can you share any sneak peeks at other projects you have in the works?
I have a historical fiction novel written that I am very excited about. The story is based on an actual battle that took place in my hometown on the first day of the Revolution and is told from the point of view of the 18-year-old woman who survived it. More details forthcoming as I learn more!
You’ve been part of the publishing world for a number of years now. What’s your top advice for an author preparing for her debut novel?
Network with, and help support, other authors. I have learned so much from others that came before me and I have always tried to be available to help promote their work as well. Sometimes I can get so caught up in my own writing and book promotion that I grow anxious. When I reach that state of mind, I feel that gentle tug from the Holy Spirit to “do unto others.” It is amazing how spiritually and mentally refreshing it can be to take an afternoon and read and write a review for a book written by another author. It really is better to give than receive.
Any final words?
To writers: Write because you love it, not because you think it might make you wealthy or famous. Likely it will never do either. :-) But if God puts a message on your heart that is practically leaping out of your head onto the computer, than go for it. Who knows—your words might carry just the right message to a hurting heart. That’s why I label my writing, “Historical fiction that feeds the soul.”
Thanks so much for having me here at Novel PASTimes!
Thanks so much for joining us, Elaine, and we're so glad to have you as part of the Pastimes family! Visitors, be sure to enter our drawing for a copy of Elaine’s latest novel, The Legacy of Deer Run (a paperback copy if you live in the U.S., an electronic version otherwise). Spell out “at” and “dot” in your email to help avoid spam, and answer this question from Elaine:
What are two elements in a historical novel that you always look for in order to classify a book as one of your favorites?
Be sure to come back tomorrow for a review of Where the Trail Ends by Melanie Dobson. And our interview next week will be with author Stephanie Guerrero. It will be our last author spotlight for 2012, so you won’t want to miss it!