Tag Archives: history

Why I write period fiction

Don’t read this blog if you don’t like history and if you don’t like history what’s wrong with you.

Somewhere in my schooling I heard, from whom I no longer recall, that history is not about dates and legislative acts. Who cares when the Homestead Act was passed. History is about the people and the times. I can relate to that.

Before I tell you why I write period fiction, let me offer three great biographies about people and their times. “Cleopatra” by Stacy Schiff will make you feel you are in ancient Egypt and you will learn more about Cleopatra than you will from any movie. “Jesse James, Last Rebel of the Civil War” by T.J. Stiles is the most thorough study of Jesse James I have read and there are scenes in the book that still haunt me. “Black Count” by Tom Reiss is a revelation about the father of writer Alexander Dumas. If ever a story ever cried out for a movie this is the one.  The story about the Black Count is too detailed, too rich, and to exciting to go into here. All three books are great reads for taking you to another time and place.

And that is why I write period fiction. I want to escape to another time and place. I have no interest in writing contemporary fiction (my short stories an exception) because it is not an escape. When I wrote “Loonies in the Dugout” about a fictional character observing a true story about the 1911 New York Giants baseball team it gave me the chance to go back in time and learn about 1911 New York. I loved the research about buildings, events at the time, the people of the time. I had the opportunity to make true life characters like Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Damon Runyon, Bat Masterson, and of course Charlie Faust come to life again. They are long dead. I never had a chance to meet them, but by writing about them in my story I was bringing them back to life. I was a kinder Dr. Frankenstein.

Then because I liked my two fictional leads, Chester and Eveleen, I set them in 1922 where they solved the true life murder of William Desmond Taylor, a silent film director, in the book “Loonies in Hollywood.” Once again I brought to life people I would have liked to have met and I solved a murder that to this day is unsolved. I won’t say I had inside information, but I met years and years ago someone who was  involved in the Hollywood scene at the time. My ending is purely fictional though. Although . . .

Then because I loved studying the flapper era with all that jazz, prohibition, speakeasies, and the movies, I gave Chet and Eveleen another chance to solve a murder in a novel that will be released this spring. It takes place in 1927 and though Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Clara Bow, Adolph Zukor, among many others, grace the story along with two fictional characters so important in my previous book, Detective Tom Ziegler and Clancy, my favorite flapper, this story, unlike the other two is not based on a true story.

So if you like history, period fiction, and reading, my Amazon page for my e-books are here. http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38



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Should Enheduanna be patron saint of female writers

Enheduanna lived  from 2285 to 2250 BCE. The dates are courtesy of Roberta Binkley who wrote the biography of Enheduana, an Akkadian princess, who moonlighted as High Priestess of the moon god Nanna. I didn’t know the Akkadians had birth certificates, but I will take Roberta’s word. The Akkadians were a Semitic people in Mesopotamia and their language is extinct which means reading her works is problematic as there is no Berlitz course being offered at this time.

She wrote the “Sumerian Temple Hymns.”  The title says everything you need to know. She also wrote “The Exaltation of Inanna,” a collection of devotions. That the first known works are religious is no surprise. The ancients didn’t write mystery novels, thrillers, or anything to do with zombies and vampires. They were a serious sort.

Most credit the first male writer as Shin-eqi-Unninni, who wrote the famed “Epic of Gilgamesh.” Once again the writing was Akkadian. The tablets were found by either Austen Layard or Hormuzd Rassam, (depending on the source you are reading), during the 19th century when one of the two, if not both, were digging around in the library of Ashurbanipal in Assyria. The library was in ruins, but fortunately they did not use paper then; tablets last longer. The library dates to the sixth century BCE.

Just as there are differences on who found the tablets in the ancient library, it is difficult to pinpoint the time in which  “The Epic of Gilgamesh” was written because there are assorted Gilgamesh stories that predate the full version. It is a fact that the tablets themselves refer to Shin-egi-Unninni as the writer, so he may have been the first to autograph his book. When Shin lived is also up for debate.

Apparently Gilgamesh was a real person; the King of Uruk about 2500 BCE. One thing for certain is that the book predates the Old Testament and has many stories, such as the great flood that are familiar to Bible readers. Since “The Epic of Gilgamesh” predates the Bible, could writers of the Old Testament be plagiarizers. And if so, has the statue of limitations expired?

The important thing is know we know who are the patron saints of female and male writers. Now writers have someone to pray to.

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