I enjoy reading and writing contemporary and historical fiction. For a long time, I wrote only historicals. During my “B.C.” years, my stories were set in California between 1846 and 1880, a period of history that still fascinates me. When I became a Christian, I couldn’t write for three years. It was a painful time of seeing the truth of my priorities and getting right with the Lord. When He opened the door to writing again, it seemed natural to set the story He gave me in the time of the California Gold Rush. From there, stories went back to Roman times, then forward to the Oregon Trail, to recent past and contemporary. Sometimes I mixed both genres, as in The Scarlet Thread.
The story dictates the time period. In either case, historical or contemporary, research is necessary. The most challenging research came for the Mark of the Lion trilogy during Roman times. Sometimes the gathering of information becomes so enticing, that’s all I want to do—keep digging, keep learning more. Even baby boomers need to learn how millennials think. The process is enriching.
The majority of research for The Masterpiece had to do with the psychology of people who have survived traumatic events during their childhood. How does past trauma impact a person’s thinking in the years ahead? What behavior might be manifested? How does a child overcome an event that would shatter an adult? What rules of life do they create to protect themselves from future hurt or harm?
Times in history can also play heavily in a story. One of the challenges I face when working on a historical novel is to put aside my twenty-first-century mind-set and think as people did in the past. In the case of Roman and Grace’s story, the present was challenge enough, their situation all too common, the outcome what can be when people meet Jesus Christ.