It has been an interesting couple of weeks in my writing head.
For the last few years, I have been battling with the idea of writing a novel set in the Baltic Region in the not too distant past. My first attempt to write about this was called “You Can’t Bury the Past Forever.” This novel was based around a young English girl who inherited a house in Tallinn and then wanted to find out more about her grandparents who had owned it. The plot followed the investigation into her grandfather’s near arrest and subsequent escape to Sweden, then America. The protagonist was able to track down the informer and expose him. It was, I think, an interesting novel but one which failed to say what I wanted to say.
That novel is still sitting on my hard drive waiting for the moment when I have the idea which will rescue it.
In the meantime, I have been investigating former KGB sites in Estonia and Latvia. I was greatly moved by two visits to the former KGB headquarters in Riga, that I came away wanting to tell the story of the events of that building in fictional form. I have plotted out the novel and done quite a lot of research into the events I am writing about. I have even written the first chapter.
A quick Google search has thrown up several websites and blogs which deal with historical but they all assume you are going to be writing about something way back in time not near-history. As Emma Darwin rightly says, the key thing to remember is not that you are writing history but are writing a story. (http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Historical-Fiction.html) Erika Sanders lists the required elements of writing historical fiction are: doing extensive background research, creating factually accurate characters, having a theme which is still relevant to today and basing the setting of the novel on research (http://www.ehow.com/list_6927820_requirements-historical-fiction-writing.html). All good advice.
The internet makes it both easier and harder to write historical fiction. It is easier because so much information is at hand for the writer. It is harder because so much information is at hand for the reader and any errors will be quickly picked up.
Is it worth pursuing? I think it is. There are a lot of stories from our near-history waiting to be told. They need people to find them and tell them. That is what I hope to do.