THE PROCESS OF WRITING A HISTORICAL BOOK BY ROBBIE CHEADLE

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

51 thoughts on “THE PROCESS OF WRITING A HISTORICAL BOOK BY ROBBIE CHEADLE

  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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  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.

      Like

  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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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.

    Liked by 1 person

    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.

      Liked by 1 person

      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 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  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 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  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

      1. Robbie, I posted a comment explaining that it was meant for Angry Bird and her poem on Narcissism. It ended up on your blog post. Thank you WordPress! 🤨 I bought your book While the Bombs Fell. It brought back memories of my childhood in the US during WWII. I can relate to much of what it was like, except in the US we were far away from the actual war. We did have rationing & black outs. And our American boys fought in it along side the British. Some were friends of our family. My grandmother was a Ham Operator in contact with Germany to find out if our towns soldiers were alive. I can relate to the extensive research for a historical fiction book. I wrote one about my famous grandfather. It refers to WWII and the Berlin Wall (1962). It’s being proofread now. The cover has been designed and the formatter is waiting to set it up. I’m Self-publishing and have an awesome team working with me. The research was extensive and I had help from an interested researcher. He provided a timeline of my grandfather’s life from Germany to his years in the US as a trumpet soloist in major symphonies. I’m enjoying your book immensely. And will write a review when I finish reading it. The research was time consuming and a chore to get it in the story without info dumps! I think you must have experienced the same writing your book. Brava to you. 📚🎶 Christine

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Christina, I am so pleased to hear you are enjoying While the Bombs Fell. I will tell my mom. She is always so happy about good feedback. I am very interested in your book about WWII. I have been researching the USA involvement in both WW1 and WWII and reading a number of books about it. I will definitely read yours when it is published so please let me know.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Robbie, I was born in 1939. I think your Mom and I are about the same age. The history in my book is more about grandfather’s life in Germany and his career in the US from 1904 when he emigrated here. A lot of it is fictionalized as there is no one alive to verify what happened in certain parts of his life. So, it’s theory and speculation. The more recent history about the Berlin Wall is accurate except for the mission into East Berlin to transport cardiac patients to the safer West. Believe me, I had to read tons of articles to get just the right history elements. You know what I went through. For at least three years. It’s the name of the book, Three Years of Her Life. Meaning, gathering information, making discoveries and getting the answers to Grandfather’s life and ultimate secret. I’ll announce the launch, probably by end of summer. The proofreader/editor came up with expansion suggestions in sections and I’m working on them now. As you found too, editors have that critical eye. We are too close to the story to see. You may just enjoy the book because of the history and the strong secondary romance story. Happy writing. 📚🎶 Christine

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Awesome, Robbie. Right now I’m working on the editor’s suggestions. It will be another month or so before I’m ready for an early review. I will remember your offer to help promote the book. Thank you! 📚🎶 Christine

        Liked by 1 person

    1. How did this comment get here. It was for Angry Bird and her poem on Narcissism. WordPress did it! 🤨Robbie I am so sorry. I’m now going to comment separately on your post. 📚🎶 Christine

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s