When I began trying to write novels some years ago now (too many years ago now), I thought I would really like to write “Westerns.” Or, as they are often called now, “historical novels set in the West.” I’m not sure why this genre appeals to me, except that I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s when there were whole barns full of Westerns on television. I was first an avid fan of “The Lone Ranger,” then “Gunsmoke,” and of course “Bonanza.” Coming in between were such great series as “Wyatt Earp,” “Maverick,” and “Have Gun Will Travel.” There were a ton more, but you get the idea.
I’ve always thought I would not like writing anything resembling a “current events” historical novel. I doubt that’s a legitimate genre anyhow, but I can’t think of a better term. I’m referring to novels set in contemporary time that rely on any sort of intricate knowledge of the culture and world events going on. I’d always be afraid I’d get too many details wrong. (Remember our discussion a couple of months ago about anachronisms?)
I suppose I could pull that contemporary thing off if I dealt with a tiny snippet of current life. But if it required knowledge of computer software, for example, I’d be lost, especially if it were gaming software because I hardly ever do games.
If I had to talk about cars, I wouldn’t know a set of Z06 Corvette wheels from a set of Ford Contour hubcaps. (I guess they call them wheel covers these days.) Even here, though, I could find help. In fact, if you click on the link here to “Z06 Corvette wheels,” you’ll get to an entire website, “WheelHQ.com,” which features some excellent deals on custom wheels, and includes a section with “how-tos” related to using those wheels.
In fact, the Internet is a great resource for researching just about any contemporary cultural theme and historical period. But I personally would feel more confident and comfortable writing about something more “static” than contemporary history, if you wish to call it that.
What period of history do you write about? Why did you choose that particular time and/or place? Do you adhere pretty closely to the times and customs or do you “lie” and make things up when you must? Tell us, please.
[tags]historical writing, contemporary culture, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]