My Personal Top 5 Reasons AUTHORS (especially me) Benefit From Historical Residences:
1. GENERAL RESEARCH
Historical accuracy is essential. Authors understand readers are bright, knowledgeable, and often know more about history than writers. It behooves us to check our facts. It’s even smarter to constantly build upon our underlying knowledge of history.
Touring museum houses brings historic research into a kind of irreplaceable 3-D focus. While not exactly “hands-on”, walking through a true Victorian American West house will forever be more informative (and better remembered) than studying the facts in print.
My creativity has benefited from a magical spark within the museum houses I’ve visited. I can’t help but take note of little details that can benefit my characters and their stories that naturally arise from the setting. I need to add “visit historic houses” to my list of responses for the frequent question, “Where do you get your ideas?“
When I enter a restored house as a tourist, I see with my own eyes what mansions in the Western Victorian Era really looked like. I’ve gained a good deal of perspective about “mansions” of yesteryear compared to today’s mansions, their square footage and the differences in where that space was once allotted vs. present-day architectural preferences.
The Molly Brown House in Denver was considered grand and a mansion in its day, but it’s smaller than many of the new homes in my city. Master Bedroom closets were seldom much more than perhaps six square feet but attics were large (often the entire uppermost level of the home) and served long-term storage purposes and often sleeping space for live-in help. The concept of central heating was new at the end of the 19th century (and original to the Flavel House). Fireplaces remained common in most rooms (in addition to central heating).
Perspective assists me as an author to get the big picture, setting-wise, whether my characters live in a one-room cabin on the prairie or a grand mansion of the New Money California Elite. Having stood in uncommonly wide hallways (compared to those of today), and glimpsed skeleton keyholes in the highly decorated and polished wooden doors, ideas sparked in my imagination for The Menace Takes a Bride. I wrote this full-length historical romance with the many houses I’d toured in mind.
Paying attention to when houses were built and what elements were original to the house is priceless to historical romance writers. I track the historical timeline such that I know when progressive, cutting-edge, and newfangled devices became available in the applicable region of the country. Running water, flushing toilets, central heat, electric lights, gas lights, telephones, typewriters, telegraph, cash registers, and cisterns. The more my personal timeline fills in, the less additional research I have to conduct. The more museum residences I tour, the better the background setting of my fiction.
5. PATTERN FICTION AFTER FACT
I do pattern fiction after fact. I believe most authors of historical fiction do. After all, we want our readers to believe it could have happened. Fiction is supposed to mirror life.
The cabin in Gideon’s Secondhand Bride is very much like those at Heritage Village and Pioneer Village. The larger, more well-to-do homes in my The Husband-Maker Trilogy titles The Menace Takes a Bride and The Cowboy Steals a Bride are a mix of architectures from museum houses on the west coast.
Some of the houses I’ve visited: Sheldon House and Wells-Thorn House in Historic Deerfield, Molly Brown House, Old Sturbridge Village, This is The Place Heritage Park (specifically Heritage Village), Pioneer Village, Flavel House, Winchester Mystery House, Mount Vernon, Salem’s Phillips House, Abraham Choate House (now at Smithsonian), Leland Stanford Mansion, The Beehive House, Stricker Mansion, and many more.
ALL of my titles are presently FREE Reads with kindleunlimited.
Top 5 Reasons READERS of Western Historical Romance Benefit From Visiting Historical Museum Residences Spring Cleaning, Victorian Style…the wallpaper? Old West Bath Tubs Victorian Refrigerators (a.k.a. Icebox) Screen Doors, a new invention! Indoor Plumbing in Victorian America The Necessary (a.k.a. the outhouse) Chamber Pots and the Old West Cape Disappointment: Fact and Fiction P.S.: Old Laundry Implements…On Vacation Historic Silver City, Idaho Historic Idaho Hotel in Silver City Silver City, Idaho’s Historic Church 1898 Victorian Summer Resorts
Authors, what Museum Residences have you toured?
What did you learn from your visits to restored or preserved houses?
Why is it important for you, as an author, to visit historic buildings in person?
Copyright © 2015 Kristin Holt, LC