Carla Olson Gade | Bringing History to Life Through Story
August 7, 2013
One of my favorite things to do as an historical fiction author is to create
authenticity in my stories by honoring the true history of my setting. Sometimes
I wonder if I enjoy the research itself more than the actual writing, but the
two go hand in hand, rather, they fit together like a hand in a glove. For
historical fiction we shall make that long embroidered silk gloves, fingerless
homespun mitts, fringed buckskin gauntlet gloves, or even black shammy gloves.
There is a difference, you know, depending on the historical period.
Details such as era appropriate fashion can tell you about the
the characters in a story, such as the black shammy gloves which were given out
in colonial New England to announce a funeral. A character who receives a pair
of these black gloves will certainly have quite a different experience than one
who is gifted the silk gloves, which perhaps would be useful for a fancy ball.
Likewise, if someone shows up at the beginning of your book with fringed gloves,
they might have a lasso handy. These are ways the author provides clues for the
reader helping them to grasp the historical time frame, socio-economic status,
gender, occupation, and cultural context all within a few words. Words that
build a story.
Drawing from a real historical setting can be a useful resource for contemporary
writers, as well, to create a believable backdrop. But no matter what time
period a story is set, authors will check their facts to establish realistic
story elements that will help make it believable and true to the genre.
Dialogue, with words, expressions, and tone, true to the date, locale, and
culture, helps readers learn about the characters and recognize their distinct
voices. Culture, including customs and manners, not only where characters are
presently, but where they have come from, can even provide motivation and
conflict. And of course, facts and events woven into the fabric of fiction can
enhance any story background. I like to use many of these to add dimension to my
novels including true persons who often earn supporting roles in my tale. I
often draw from archives discovered at historical society websites and
historical publications which tell little known items of interest that provides
fodder to my imagination.
Great historicity in fiction is also found in the use of senses.
sounds, tastes, and smells true to an era in time, as experienced through a
characters point of view, can lend understanding, show motivation, establish
atmosphere, set a mood, offer clues, evoke emotions. In my novel Pattern for Romance I was able
to incorporate these elements and create a realistic story set in colonial
Boston. It begins with the crack of musket, tastes and smells of tea and
cinnamon, and lends the softness of a whole-cloth quilt.
A native New Englander, Carla Olson Gade, writes from her home in beautiful
rural Maine where she resides with her “hero” husband. Pattern for Romance is
part of the Quilts of Love series, which can be found at
One commenter will win a copy of PATTERN FOR ROMANCE plus a china cup and a
box of cinnamon (find out what part it plays in the book).
30 comments posted.
Re: Carla Olson Gade | Bringing History to Life Through Story
This sounds very good. I think it is very fun to learn about an author's process when they write a book. It is also fun to learn more about the story behind the story.
(Larena Hubble 1:06pm August 7, 2013)
I enjoyed reading about the way you go about creating a book. Pattern for Romance sounds interesting, but I guess I'll have to read it to find out what part the china cup and box of cinnamon play in it.
(Anna Speed 1:50pm August 7, 2013)
Sounds very insightful!
(Diane Pollock 2:21pm August 7, 2013)
I have to give authors credit for all they go through to entertain us! Quite a process.... I am glad that I am a reader and not the author. Its so much fun on my side!
(Betty Hamilton 3:03pm August 7, 2013)
Wow, Congrats on your new book: PATTERN FOR ROMANCE. Thanks
for all the great information that goes into making a great
book. Your colonial Boston story sounds fascinating and I
can almost taste that great tea with cinnamon and cookies on
the side. I would love to win your new book plus the china
cup and box of cinnamon. I cannot wait to read it this
summer. Thank You very much. Cecilia CECE
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 4:05pm August 7, 2013)
This sounds like a great prize, I'd love to win it.
(Wilma Frana 4:06pm August 7, 2013)
I LOVE YOUR BOOKS THEY ARE MARVELOUS. I CAN'T STOP READING
THEM THEY ARE FANTASTIC. IT WOULD BE AWESOME TO WIN THE GREAT
PRIZE FROM MY FAVORITE AUTHOR!!!!!!!!!
(Shelly Caggiano 4:14pm August 7, 2013)
I've always been fascinated by the American Colonial period,
but there aren't that my romances set then - this looks
(Diane Sallans 4:25pm August 7, 2013)
I enjoyed reading about how you set a scene and a time period. It's
something I never think about while reading a book. I don't think about the
research that goes into the stories I love. Congratulations on the book and
thanks for the giveaway!!!
(Linda Brennan 4:54pm August 7, 2013)
It's nice that many couples choose a pattern but some don't! My son & his new wife like plain white plates ~ ce la vie!
(Susan Coster 5:15pm August 7, 2013)
I found it very interesting and commendable how you enhance your fictional stories with elements of realism. I enjoy historical books and movies. I also love the fact that your book is set in colonial Boston, as I was born and raised in a small northern town in Massachusetts not far from Boston. I would very much like to win the gift and read your book. Thank you for this chance to win. Best Wishes To You.
(Esther Somorai 6:02pm August 7, 2013)
This sounds like a very detailed fictional historical book. I can't wait to find out more about Honour and her bridal quilt needlework creation. Would love to win and read this, as I'm a craft person, and this really appeals to me!
(Linda Luinstra 6:29pm August 7, 2013)
I love reading historical fiction and your research while writing must really be exciting and ineresting.
(Shirley Younger 6:40pm August 7, 2013)
Congratulations on your new book! Said it before, but I have to say again-- LOVE this cover. Very authentic looking to the time period. I know your research must have been impeccable; can't wait to read it! Blessings and much success...
(Pat Iacuzzi 7:05pm August 7, 2013)
Wow so many great comments! I'm so excited about Pattern for Romance and the old town of colonial Boston. I hope you'll enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it, and especially researching it. I think you'll have much fun visiting with Honour and her man, Joshua! Colonial America just might surprise you!
(Carla Olson Gade 7:08pm August 7, 2013)
Good luck with the book, sounds like a winner. I also like cinnamon on toast.
(Deb Pelletier 7:39pm August 7, 2013)
I really enjoy fiction that has good historical details. I feel like I'm learning and enjoying myself at the same time.
(Sue Farrell 7:40pm August 7, 2013)
Inteesting on the gloves. Last year we visited Maine for the first time and I got introduced to lobster rolls. It is beautiful there.
Appreciate the giveaway.
(Leona Olson 9:33pm August 7, 2013)
I would love to do research for a book. I'm really big on
details for anything and I enjoy trying to figure things out.
Which is why I'm really curious about the china cup and box of
(Lisa White 10:01pm August 7, 2013)
As a person who sews, quilts, and does needlework I love reading stories that center around those arts. I also love stories that include historical facts.
(Teresa Miller 10:22pm August 7, 2013)
Creativity is such an integral part of people's personalities, so I love reading all the details and trying to picture in my mind what that character would be like in my world and if I would like them or be likely to regularly interact with them. It is always great to meet a character and feel like they are "friend" material.
(Donna Holmberg 10:26pm August 7, 2013)
I would love to be a winner.
(Melanie Backus 10:49pm August 7, 2013)
I'm glad to hear that cinnamon and tea cup are piquing your interest!
(Carla Olson Gade 11:37pm August 7, 2013)
I love it when I can lose myself in a story and those with
historical setting require a particularly fine touch to give
the reader a feeling of getting lost in the story.
(G. Bisbjerg 11:57pm August 7, 2013)
GRAT BOOK! THANKS FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
(Shelley Summers 12:01pm August 8, 2013)
The details in the historical background is important. It brings the readers to the era that the story is taking place. It would be odd that the characters is from the Regency era but the setting is set in modern time. Thanks for the giveaway.
(Kai Wong 12:02pm August 9, 2013)
The authenticity does shine through & is certainly
(Mary Preston 7:42am August 9, 2013)
I love to write historical fiction, but I am also a great reader of it. I truly enjoy a great historical setting that draws me into the story.
(Carla Olson Gade 4:34pm August 9, 2013)
what a wonderful book this sounds like!
(Rhonda Nash-Hall 4:47pm August 9, 2013)
I would love to read your book. I think I would like doing the research part I'm not much at writing but great at reading. Thanks for a chance to win.
(Diana Montgomery 12:06pm August 10, 2013)
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