I am primarily a lover of non-fiction writing and books, but once in a while a great fiction read comes along. In the past few months I’ve realized that historical fiction like Outlander, TV shows like Mad Men or a children’s book about Golda Meir can be important tools for a writer to look at character development based on true historical events. Using research and facts first, as a backdrop, one can find a character’s qualities to write about. Did living during wartime or leaving one’s country help develop your character’s strengths and dreams? I usually spend hours or days on research before deciding which way my character’s story will progress.
After researching some facts about strong women in the 1920s and 30s labor and feminist movement, I’ve taken notes for a children’s picture book biography about one of these strong women. But I have decided to put that on the back burner for a few weeks and have started a fiction picture book about my grandparents journey from Poland and Russia to America, spurred on by some of the non-fiction research I did for the bio. I have started to write about my grandparents on other occasions, but now after reading more about the time period I felt ready to tell their story. From butcher to seamstress, shop owner and milliners, all four of my grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe with stories to tell. As I write about the grandparents on my maternal side, I hope their interesting story will come alive on the page as I edit and revise to make some details of their journey into historical fiction fun for young kids to read.