I went to high school in the days when our curriculum was laid out for us and there was very little choice about what subjects we studied; hence, History was on my timetable for four years! And I barely endured it. Learning facts such as the number of Roundheads fighting in 1641 England (I had to look them up again!) and spouting them back on foolscap was pure drudgery for me. I preferred perfecting my French accent or writing stories.
Who knew that as I got older my tastes would completely change? My reading of historical fiction led to reading history books themselves which eventually led to writing my first historical novel. Along the way the subculture of history buffs became apparent.
I treasure the conversations with those who love my genre. We share great book titles and spectacular authors, spreading the words like breadcrumbs, each of us anxious to follow the paths of history as we learn more and more. I scrounge for everyday details that show how ordinary people lived. I own cookbooks bought in museums and have used them when deciding just what specific dishes John and Lucy (The Loyalist’s Wife) might be eating or the way to skin a raccoon out in the wilds.
My most interesting discovery has been the world of re-enactors. A couple of weeks ago I signed up to sell my books at a historical museum in Niagara-on-the-Lake. While the number of people through the museum that day was disappointing to say the least, those that I did meet were amazing.
One of the authors used the event for his book launch and he brought in about twenty people in period costume, my period! Many came to my table and some bought my book but more exciting was the feeling of shared interests. With wide eyes we talked about the Loyalists and how they came to be. I even met the author of a book which mentions my Garner ancestors. Gail Woodruff knew immediately the story of my people. I was enthralled.
I have yet to connect with the awesome lady who offered to take me to a re-enactment this fall. Of course we’re into the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812-1814 and The Loyalist’s Luck (book two in the Loyalist Trilogy) covers that period so I am ecstatic about that whole idea. I have to finish this post and send off an email to her.
What intellectual excitement it is to meet these people who, like me, thrill at the discovery of our history. I just wish that History class in high school had held the kind of emotional pull that discovering my Loyalist roots does now.