Mixing Truth in Fiction

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By Jodie Wolfe

As a reader and writer of historical romance, I’m one of those people who read the author notes at the end of the book to discover which part of the story is based on various historical happenings or true stories. There’s always a risk as an author when you use real tales and events. I tend to over research to make sure I know as much about the era as possible. Even then, there’s the chance that I’ll miss something and have a reader contact me to let me know where I was wrong. For me, I find it exciting and more realistic when I can include true stories within my fiction. I feel it provides a deeper enjoyment for the reader.

My recent release, To Claim Her Heart is set during the backdrop of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893 which took place 125 years ago today. I enjoyed learning facts about the race as well as conditions in the United States that led up to 115,000 desperate people showing up at nine different starting locations along the Kansas and Oklahoma Territory to race for only 42,000 available parcels of land. If you ever saw the movie with Tom Cruise, Far and Away, it gives you a fairly accurate portrayal of the time period. All manner of conveyances could be seen with people on foot, horseback, buggies, wagons, bicycles, trains, etc.

I can easily imagine the chaos as all those assembled awaited the gunshot that would signify the start of the race at noon. People experienced hopelessness as the country had undergone an economic catastrophe with the plummet of the stock market due to the overinvesting in the railroads. Many businesses that depended upon the railroad were forced to shut their doors. Quite a number of banks either closed or called in loans.

Not only did I rely on research for my new historical novel, but I also had the joy of including some of the true stories that are part of my husband’s heritage. One such story involved a real outlaw who had been terrorizing the area and made a surprise appearance to my husband’s distant grandmother, while the local men were out on a search party trying to track him down. I had lots of fun adding that tale to my story. I do feel that when stories like this are added, it provides a deeper layer of enjoyment for the reader, especially when the author shares more about the facts in the author notes. The stories don’t have to be elaborate. It could be as simple as a quilt that is passed down to the oldest daughter in each generation. While I made it the youngest daughter to fit my story, I have a quilt that my mother-in-law gave to me that was sewn in the early 1800s. One of her relatives who claimed land during the Cherokee Strip Land Run had brought it along with them.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading the author’s notes and discovering what parts of the fiction tale is true?

I find it exciting and more realistic when I can include true stories within my fiction. @JodieAWolfe #ACFWBlogs #fiction www.acfw.com/blog Click To Tweet

 Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. Her newest release, To Claim Her Heart, takes place during the last great race for land in Oklahoma Territory in 1893. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Visit Jodie at www.jodiewolfe.com.


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