In honor of Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day depending on where you’re at in the world, Historical Fiction Author Rebecca Gibson has been kind enough to write about how she gleans information and shapes it into a fascinating story.
Entering The Mind of a WWI Private
As a Historical Fiction author I needed to get into the brain of a WW1 private for my latest novel Rubies Fall (due out on the 11th of November). So, how did I manage it?
The First World War was a deeply complex period in history that’s only recently come into the forefront of people’s awareness. Between 1914 and 1918 the war touched millions of people. Every village and town in England has a memorial with names of the deceased carved into it.
However, once the war had ended, it was discussed rarely. The early nineteen hundreds was a period of time when reputation and appearance were vitally important – trench life wasn’t exactly polite tea time conversation.
The soldiers who fought in the trenches spoke little about their experiences. PTSD (shell shock as it was known then) was rife but rarely brought up or even acknowledged…except by a few silenced soldiers. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, from the confines of Craig Lockhart War Hospital, wrote the most famous anti-war poetry the world has ever seen. These writers were my main inspiration for Rubies Fall. I was introduced to their work in school and became obsessed. I have since devoured their poetry, biographies, letters…anything I could get my hands on.
As a result of it being the centenary of The Great War, a lot of information has been released recently. Diaries of soldiers, letters, novels have all been a vital part of my research process. Not to mention the various TV series (both fiction and factual) aired mostly on the BBC. My particular favourite was a series showing the letters and diaries of people – both men and women – experiencing the war first hand. I am interested, above all things, of personal experiences. Perhaps that’s what I’ve taken from my Psychology degree.
Additionally, the wonderful thing about the world we live in today is that we have the internet! Whilst full of terrible, shallow rubbish, the internet holds entire libraries of books and galleries of pictures. Everything on the internet must be taken with a pinch of salt, but with the click of a button, I could find out anything I needed to know. If I had a question, chances are someone’s already asked it somewhere. Just to defend myself, all internet research was backed up by more solid sources before used. However, it is undoubtedly a good spring board.
I could have skimmed the surface, of course, but that would have led to a mediocre book. Who wants to read a mediocre book? As this is a topic of personal interest to me…I visited the battlefields myself. Seeing the former battlefields of Flanders, Belgium was a humbling experience, whilst walking amongst row upon row of bone white headstones was unlike anything I could describe with words.
Fought out of our sight, we often put WW1 out of our minds as well. Seeing the real battlefields, and countless WW1 exhibitions since, has rooted my research in fact. I hope it shows in the pages of my novel.
Rebecca M. Gibson grew up in Cornwall, UK, where inspiration was never hard to come by. From writing ghost stories on her mum’s computer, to completing her first novel, stories have always interested her.
Fascinated by letters and poems written in the First World War, she tries to understand the complexities of emotion and the phenomenal strength of the human mind…or at least, that’s her justification for giving her characters more than their fair share of turmoil. She studied for a Psychology Degree at Aberystwyth University, although, being a novelist has always been her dream.
Did You Know:
Rebecca is hosting a Release Party for Rubies Fall on Facebook 11/11/2016!
Click HERE to RSVP and join the fun!
You can also check out my review of her novel Diamonds Fall by clicking HERE!
Interesting and Important Fact: