Historical Research and Fiction

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By Marguerite Gray

My life long journey and love of historical research began with a solid foundation within my family. My father is an architect with a preservation and historical emphasis. We spent a few years in England when I was a preteen while he studied for an advanced university degree. My sisters and I had the unique experience of attending the local school. My parents took us to churches, cemeteries, castles, manors, and villages with the purpose of education. The lessons came in the form of searching for historical clues—games and puzzles. What a perfect way to experience the world so full of information and facts.

England, Europe, and back home. We have family jokes about seeing every church and cemetery on our vacations. As an adult, I blame my parents for my insatiable desire to travel and study. Give me a research project and I am lost in the process—happily transported to the past. I am an avid traveler, experiencing for myself the visual elements that I have researched. Who knows where a story might lurk. I include the places in a society where the citizens (characters) live or lived from day to day, then I follow their footsteps. Churches and cemeteries occupy a lot of my travel time. Besides the beauty, the names on the tombstones and church records give valuable insight. Although I am easily entertained, my travel companions tend to wander away from my extended perusal of these sites.

Manor houses and castles in Europe ooze historical facts that keep me focused as I latch onto tidbits, leading to insight into the lives of historical characters and eventual fictional ones. I always find guidebooks and books of the times that become my souvenirs and future research resources.

Gardens intrigue me by their artistic design, purpose, and secrets perhaps buried for centuries. My travels in Europe inspired my Gardens in Time series. My characters are involved in the planning, planting, and preservation of these historical gardens: Boboli Gardens (Italy), Hampton Court Palace Gardens (England), Chenonceau Gardens (France), and Thun Gardens (Switzerland). Gardening is an occupation for life with an immense world of inspiration.

Although I read across most genres, historical Christian fiction is my first love. My journey began with Lori Wick and continues today with a long list of authors. With my passion for research and history, my manuscripts combine history with fiction, bringing entertainment, education, and encouragement. When I read, I want to learn something and be inspired while falling in love with the characters and their stories. It naturally overflows into my writing.

For each of my novels, I spend about three months researching with books I have purchased, giving my personal library a nice boost in volume. That time is necessary for the authenticity I want to weave in and around my characters.

My research for my newest novel, Promise of Purity, started when I was living in England. My real-life experience in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace gave life to my imagination. Playing in the maze and wandering in the herb and privy gardens earned a prominent place in my memory. As an adult, I have returned there three times—most recently in June, 2022.

For this novel I used twenty resources, concentrating on the Civil War in England after the beheading of King Charles I, the leadership of Cromwell, and the return from exile of King Charles II. Fascinating times, volatile situations, and tough decisions. Reading so many books, highlighting and organizing notes, and coordinating facts, finally allowed me to pinpoint the setting of the novel.

I’m on to my next endeavor, enjoying the research phase once again.

Happy reading, researching, and writing.

Where research meets fiction, creativity ignites. - Marguerite Gray Click To Tweet

Marguerite Gray is the author of the Revolutionary Faith Series and the Gardens in Time Series. Besides researching, she enjoys writing and hiking. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and Spanish online. She has two adult children plus two grandsons and lives in Louisiana with her husband.



Comments 3

  1. They tore up all the lovely past
    back where I used to live,
    in preference for modish cast,
    a crime I can’t forgive.
    The kerbstones with old names engraved
    were jackhammered, thrown aside,
    and stately trees were coarsely shaved
    to show new-money pride.
    The manor-houses might have been
    restored to former glory,
    but the arrivistes longed to win,
    to place their stamp and story
    where once upon a time of old,
    their betters in calm wisdom strolled.

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