Having begun my academic career as a History major and being a confessed History Nerd of the First Order, I have a visceral reaction to anachronisms. I’m also not fond of blatant inaccuracies in media, but that’s another post.
I try to write what I know, but nobody knows (or can remember) everything about every topic. I undertook L’homme Theroux just under two months ago knowing there would be a fair amount of research to both aid my memory and learn new things along the way. These references are also in the Page section for easy reference later.
The first draft will be complete in a few days, and then on to the editing. Having never edited a project this large, I know not what new and creative tortures await me. But I do know what sorts of tortures await my characters. That is the fun of being the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of worlds.
Here are just a few of the more interesting resources I consulted to write the most accurate book I could. Where there are factual errors in the novel, keep in mind they could be there purposely. Altering the laws of physics or time isn’t my style, but I might have fudged a few locations or place names for the sake of the story.
Geek out, fellow History Nerds. I’ve divided it into sections.
Canadiana.org – Provides digitized access to Canada’s documentary heritage. In English, that means they scan and make available a huge library of historic books, magazine, documents, newspapers, etc. For my purposes, documents on the Fur Trade were invaluable, but all periods are represented.
Historic Canada – Canadian History from before first contact with Europeans to the present day.
Canada’s First Peoples – That’s what they call their Indians.
Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and promoting American Indian languages – Everything you ever wanted to know about Native Indian languages. Really? It’s still OK to say “Indian”? I thought I was going to catch Hell of using it extensively in the novel.
Super, Duper Coolness for History Geeks
Out of this Century blog by Ben Miller – This blog is fantastic. I hope Mr. Miller never stops. It is well written and thoroughly researched with wonderful period images. Anyone writing historical fiction is doing their writing a disservice by ignoring his webpage. It contains heaps of tiny details that will bring life to your writing and help you avoid anachronisms. You really should follow him.
In Mr. Miller’s words:
This blog is a chronicle of the past. Its aim is to bring to light the forgotten customs, traditions, individuals and events that have shaped us as a people and a culture, or were simply remarkable in their own right…including fascinating, surprising, and shocking bits of arcana which offer us a more vivid picture of the way that things were, and help us imagine how it might have felt to live in those times. It is history for history’s own sake.
White Oak Society – I squealed like a little girl and now wish I lived in Minnesota. They specialize in living history from the 15th Century, 18th Century, and the Viking period. How the Vikings got mixed in, I’m not sure. And they host rendezvous, too.
Their blub and event details on the rendezvous event:
White Oak interprets a North West Company fur post circa 1798 in the upper Mississippi River valley. Our rendezvous covers a broader range of historical eras and is considered a “pre-1840” event. The different time periods will be segregated so as to avoid confusion by the public and to enrich a given time period’s authentic feel.
This year’s event included primitive archery, voyageur games, a Paddle Dance, tomahawk throwing for all ages, knife throwing, spear throwing, and children’s games. (Silly me, I assumed tomahawk, knife, and spear throwing WERE children’s games. Children of all ages.)
Museum of the Fur Trade – Dedicated to preserving the history of the North American fur trade, located in Chadron, Nebraska. Really the only reason I have to visit Nebraska again. I will make a special trip from my heavily fortified compound in an undisclosed location to experience this place. I might even take the kids, unlike the White Oak Society Rendezvous. That would ruin a good time for the wife and me.
Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky Mountain West – Not really the same period or geographic region as L’homme Theroux, but very similar in tools, techniques, and circumstances.
Women of the West Museum: Homesteading a Sod House – There is far more to building a sod house than you would think. That is assuming you want it to remain standing. I’m not much for the “girl power” silliness, but I hold a special place in my heart for those wind chapped, leathery faced women who followed their husbands into the wild and helped him carve out a society.
Disturbing Scenes in L’homme Theroux
Theoi Project – Explores Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art. A comprehensive, free reference guide to the gods, spirits, fabulous creatures, and heroes of ancient Greek Mythology and religion.
Take a wild guess as to why I had to research 19th century nails. Then, read the book for find out.
Robert McGee – You can’t have a novel about trappers, Indians, and the frontier fur trade without some scalping going on.