Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I'm Writing Now

What's a nice history geek like you doing writing a post-apocalyptic novel?

I've always presented myself as a history nerd here--and when I first started this blog, I was writing only historical fiction. First the whole package was pretty 18th century in theme--18th century clothing, history tidbits, and novel in progress. Then it branched out when I started writing a WWII-era project.

Now it must seem I've gone off the deep end, writing not a story of a recreated past, but spun from a speculated future.

Not quite.

Because, you see, I can't quite get away from my historical roots. I firmly believe that there's nothing new under the sun, and if we're doing it now or may do it in the future, we can be informed of the hows and whats and whos by looking at the past. Much of the research for a world where technology is defunct must come from history--so I was right in my element, drumming up questions and answers in the history stacks of the library. My characters have to plant and harvest without machinery, trap and hunt and raise livestock. And not only sew, but produce fabric. There are spinning wheels and drop spindles and knitting needles littered throughout the book--because, as in the past, in this world, constant work is a way of life.

To get even more specific, the three groups of people tied together in the story are based on different historical groups. For realsies. You've got:

The Colony: This may be a touch obvious, but--the Colony is based on the period of early settlement in North America. A large part of this is the importance of small community--both groups are reliant pretty much only on themselves for survival. Oh, and lots of carving an existence from the forest and stuff. I specifically thought of the first settlements in the American Midwest--the French who settled in what they called "La plus belles pays du monde"--the most beautiful country in the world. Their existence was difficult, but their communities, cultures, and behavoir was, mostly, rather refined.

The Federate: My antagonists are probably my favorite group in the story. They're great at being arrogant, efficient, and charming. They're trying to build an empire. They're the British military, c. 1800. I love these guys--you hate what they're doing, but man--do they look nice in the uniform. And what they do is pretty despicable, unless you like colonialism's nasty faces of slavery, oppression, and "progress."

The Metropole: These guys are a bit shiftier. The City dwellers who stayed, their culture fractured into tribes or clans, making them easy comparisons to a myriad tribal cultures. But I'll take the step that their fierce loyalty to their clan, their uneasy relationships to one another, and their focus on fighting as pretty much the only way to distinguish themselves, I'll call it--they're like my Celtic ancestors. If only they got drunk more, they'd be deadringers for Irish (I kid! Just a classic, self-deprecating 'all we do is fight and drink' joke!)

Enough of me blathering about my story...what interesting ties between past and present--or future--have you found lately?

1 comment:

Carrie C said...

Rowenna, that's exciting and sounds like a lot of fun! I hope you'll tell us more as the writing progresses.

I'm in a bit of limbo - can't find the time to get to the Library of Congress where I need to research my next manuscript, while letting my most recent draft cool before I dive into serious revision mode. But I'm excited about getting to both, especially the heavy research for the next project! It's history that I'm less familiar with (17th c. Dutch), so I'm psyched about the chance to learn more.