Experiencing History by @CarolynMAuthor
I never used to be a history buff. I didn't really study it in school, I only did one subject (in one year) at university. To be honest, my young and foolish self didn't really see the point.
As a writer of historical fiction I suppose it's inevitable that I pay closer attention to how history has shaped our world. I noticed this particularly on a recent family holiday as we spent time in the west coast of the USA: history is everywhere.
Our first day in Los Angeles was spent in Hollywood, where the stars and handprints of long-gone celebrities are etched into the pavement. That was nice, but the importance of history was brought home far more clearly when we visited the Huntington Library, where we saw a Gutenberg Bible (!) and a first Folio of Shakespeare (!)
and a house filled with old and priceless artwork, ceramics and furnishings that made this Regency author’s heart beat faster. Then our trip along the coastal road to Big Sur and Monterey saw more stops at iconic – and old! - bridges and buildings, before we saw the amazing Yosemite National Park (established by Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s). The towering granite and ancient trees speak of God’s handiwork through millennia; some estimate some redwoods to be four thousand years old!
Our trip took us further north, where we have visited little towns like Eureka, where the beautiful Victorian-era buildings are topped by the eye-popping Carson mansion, built in 1885 by a millionaire who cared not for the conventions, saying words to the effect that “If I build it too plain they’ll say I’m a miser, if I build it too fancy they’ll say I’m showing off, so I might as well build it to please myself.” (Love it!)
Dinner that night was at the Samoa Cookhouse, another history-laden locale. This cookhouse, reputed to be the last cookhouse still serving in the ‘lumberjack-style’ of the 1800s, was a fabulous treasure trove of logging relics and photos from a bygone age. And the food was fabulous (and extremely generously portioned) too!
Writing historical fiction is always a fun blend of imagination, research and – when it allows – experience. As an Australian writing English Regency romance, my opportunity to ‘experience’ the life and times of lords and ladies of 200 years ago is pretty limited J, and means I’m often reliant on online journals and letters from that era to create a sense of authenticity.
Trips like these don’t come very often, and I’ve been very conscious of God’s grace and largesse, allowing me (& my family) to experience such wonders of the world.
I’m also very conscious that history is everywhere, with so much to absorb, if only we have eyes to see.
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher.
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, and Miss Serena’s Secret, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, etc
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