Thank you Jennifer S Alderson for inviting me over to you lovely blog to talk about my approach to writing a historical book.

While the bombs fell

I am happy to welcome author Robbie Cheadle back to my blog. She’s here to talk about her foray into historical fiction writing. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t as ‘easy’ as she’d expected! Take a moment to read about Robbie’s fascinating process of turning her mother’s earliest memories into a captivating memoir.

The process of writing a historical book

Robbie CheadleWhen I embarked on the journey of turning my mom’s early years into a book, I didn’t have a plan. She had told my siblings and me all sorts of tales about her early life while we were growing up and it seemed a simple thing to get her to jot down her memories and for me to turn them into a continuous story about her childhood. My mother grew up during WWII but that didn’t faze me at all. Even though I knew she was only seven years old when the war ended, it didn’t occur to me how much research would be required to get her story to hang together in a believable and factually accurate way.

We started off with her writing down her memories of various events during her life and I typed them up into a fictionalized account of her reality. Already, research was required. I had to learn an awful lot about everyday events during the period 1939 to 1945 such as what kind of swimming costumes were available during the war, what food could be grown and bought, how did the rationing of food work in practice, how did a dairy farmer sterilize the milk bottles and how was milk delivered. My mom could remember all sorts of oddments of information about her life and family, but this sort of detail was not available from her memories. Another issue I encountered early on during our writing process was the fact that my mom did not necessarily have her memories in order or in the correct timeframes.

You can read the rest of this post here: The Process of Writing a Historical Book


  1. This is very interesting thank you both. I can imagine that the research was time consuming while fascinating. So worthwhile to bring the minutiae into this important part of history thereby making it more real to the reader.

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  2. What a great idea to write about this era using real memories from your mom’s early years. She could provide you with the personal reactions to daily events and all your research will give
    the readers a feel of being there.
    Some of your questions I asked myself whilst reading a book from that era.


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  3. Thank you Robbie for sharing this, I went over to read in full, and from my own memories of what my Gran and my parents told me this time in our English History held many memories which was passed down..
    The way in which you research the finer details is very impressive..
    My Grandma still had her copper boiler when I would visit as a child, and she would tell me tales of rationing, and she still stocked piled Sugar long after the days of rationing out of habit I think, as sugar was in short supply in the war..
    I was issued my own ration book when I was born as rationing went on LONG after the war and was abolished July of 54.
    Excellent read my friend, and sending all the best for your publications 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sue. Yes, I know that rationing went on for a very long time. Flour was also in short supply during the war so people used potato flour instead. I must say that the British were very innovative when it came to food, Sue.


  4. A fantastic post. It must be trickier when you have to try to incorporate personal details into a fictionalized story, but it also makes it much more realistic and brings it to life. Thanks, Robbie.

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  5. Robbie, oh yes, writing even a semblance of a historical book is daunting. I didn’t know the process and two years later, I have finally finished my paranormal, historical-time-slip novel. I promised myself that I would never do another 17th century novel. Absolutely exhausting…for me anyway. Thank you for a very information blog on the process of writing historical novels.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Karen. It is interesting to me. I did have an advantage as I have been writing publications for years and have learned a lot about collecting and analyzing data. I have also learned to check and re-check facts as African data can be unreliable.

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      1. Yes, you are so right…checking fact are so important. I did lots of research for my new novel…A Historical Time-Slip Paranormal Witch Fantasy…Good Grief…whatever was I thinking. Karen 🙂

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  6. Robbie, lucky you, doing publications, I can imagine, that would be incredibly helpful. I do have a Masters degree in Clinical Research and a PhD, in Clinical Nutrition, but those skills are very different than writing an Historical Paranormal Time-Slip. Unfortunately, I decided to use the vernacular of the day, and to use Scottish slang of that time period in Colonial America, for several characters. I will never do that again, especially for me, a novice writer, till learning the craft of writing fiction. Thanks so much for writing, the Process of Writing a Historical Book. Karen 🙂

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  7. I really enjoyed reading your guest post, Robbie. How wonderful to have Charli help edit your book. I can just imagine the wealth of information you found on WWII, but bringing it all together into your personal account of your mother’s early years ‘while the bombs fell’ I know would have been no easy feat. I am fascinated by your book and will be reading it as soon as viably possible. Of course, rural Suffolk is ‘my place’…my memoir begins there, but in the late 70’s and of course, a very different experience. No bombs, for one! Bungay brings many happy memories of holidays on the Norfolk Broads with my mum and dad before they split up. My mother was not much older than yours at nine when WWII ended and has a lot of stories from that time too…so this is a story that pulls at my heartstrings even before I’ve read it! Thank your for sharing your process, and congratulations on what I already know will be great read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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