I love history. My inspiration to write the novel I am working on blossomed while reading about people who had lived through World War I and World War II, and it was the drama of how they survived through those mammoth events that planted the seed for my novel.
I love research. And let me tell you, I had no idea exactly how many things I would have to search out in order to create a story with authenticity. One of my plotlines takes place in 1943 during the Invasion of Southern Italy in World War II. The other plotline in my novel takes place in 1994 in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are clearly delineated sequences in these stories from earlier years and other locations that relate to the life experiences of the main characters. Scores of period elements and locales to research.
I love learning. Thank God! Not a clue did I have how much I would learn during these three or more years that I have been engaged in the process. Here are a few areas of my research:
HISTORICAL CALENDARS, HISTORICAL WEATHER, PHASES OF THE MOON:
1943 Ravello, Italy; 1936 London, England; 1923 Berlin, Germany;
1933 Santa Monica, California; and 1994 San Francisco and Santa Fe
BENEDICTINE ABBEYS: Italy, United States
THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES 1919
GHOST RANCH, NEW MEXICO
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE: 1946 New Mexico
FIREARMS USED IN WORLD WAR II, GERMAN & ALLIED
ALLIED ARMY MEALS ON THE BATTLEFIELD
GERMAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT
FIVE DEADLY POISONS THAT CAN BE COOKED UP AT HOME
THE VILLA CIMBRONE, RAVELLO
LA FONDA HOTEL, SANTA FE
BREEDS OF LIVESTOCK
CHRISTMAS IN LONDON 1936
MILITARY BATTLE MAPS INVASION OF ITALY
SHEET MUSIC, LYRICS, KEYS: Classical music selections
ROMAN GODDESS DIANA
VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON: Floor plan, collections
ART SCHOOLS: Prague, Czechoslovakia Early 1960s; London mid-1960s
MOTOR HOMES 1994
BERLIN CABARET AND STREET MAPS 1920s
AUTUMN VEGETABLES AND FLORA RAVELLO 1943
TERRAIN: All locations
DATES OF INVASION, MOVEMENT OF TROOPS, COMBAT: 1943 Southern Italy
SANTA FE OPERA 1994: Operas performed, singers, conductors, attendance
GRAND PIANOS: In use in Europe 1943
LIFE OF SAINT BENEDICT
VINTAGE FRENCH FABRIC AND PATTERNS
ANTIQUE GAS STOVES
HIGH RANKING NAZI OFFICIALS: Hitler, Göring, Goebbels, Hess, Von Ribbentrop
HOW TO TUNE A VIOLIN
MUSSOLINI AND HIS FASCIST REGIME
VINTAGE NEAPOLITAN COFFEE POTS
These are but a few of the places my research has taken me. From the grand to the miniscule, the sublime to the ridiculous. From the tools of global warfare to the utensils of everyday life. Many, many instruments of research have I entered from books: biographies, memoirs, chronicled accounts and analyses by British, American, German, and Italian authors and historians; to films: documentaries, fictions based on fact; daily personal journals of those who took part as it was happening; and the vast array of resources found on The Worldwide Web.
Having spent much time on details of action, plot, and authenticity, I have just completed my fifth revision of the WWII Italian Invasion plotline and am focusing coming revisions on the deepening and expanding of my characters there, after which I must return to the San Francisco/Santa Fe plotline and begin the process again with that cast of characters.
Even though my plan was to have this novel finished by the beginning of 2015, I must acknowledge that it will not be ready that soon. So, I say to you: Great things come to those who wait a little longer!