Monday, June 7, 2010

Special Guest Darlene Franklin on Writing from Historical Events

This month, Blissful Writing Thoughts is pleased to welcome veteran Darlene Franklin on writing from historical events.

Writing from Historical Events

In one way, writing historical fiction is easy: Find an interesting event and write a story about that event (or inspired by it).

I’m not talking about the “big” events, like the Civil War. I’m talking about a specific event, like the northernmost battle of that war, St. Alban’s Raid. A group of confederates stole into Vermont from Canada, claimed the town of St. Alban’s for the Confederacy, robbed a bank—and were run out of town, right back to Canada. My current work-in-progress is about a copycat bank robbery in the fictional town of Maple Notch.

So far all the historical books save one I've sold were inspired by actual events or people. I have yet to sell a story where I think of a story then look for a place and time to match it.


A Dr.-Quinn type story of an Eastern girl who goes to medical school (Colorado, 1876)

An asthmatic stage coach owner and a reclusive ranch owner (Texas, 1891)

A crusading

preacher who falls in love with the daughter of the prostitute he’s trying to run out of town (Colorado, 1894)

Among others


A story inspired by the worst blizzard in Colorado history (1913): Snowbound Colorado Christmas. (Colorado, 1913)

A story inspired by Vermont folk tale hero Ann Story, a patriot who lived in a cave during the Revolutio

nary War: Prodigal Patriot. (Vermont, 1777)

A story inspired by the town history of Egypt, Vermont: Bridge to Love (Vermont, 1816-1817)

Among others

The same event—the infamous Year of No Summer that struck the Northeast in 1816, when snow fell at least once every month during the year—has inspired three different stories for me. In addition to Beacon of Love (Barbour, 2009—repackaged this summer in Seaside Romance) and Bridge to Love (November, 2010, Barbour), an editor has requested a manuscript based on the exodus of Mainers to Ohio during 1816.

My search for story “sparks” is usually intentional. I usually have a geographical region in mind, as well as a general time period. I look at state time lines, town histories, and other websites until I find a fact that makes me say “aha!” Sometimes I can claim serendipity. A visit to the Colorado History Museum added elephants to my Snowbound book. A trip through Oklahoma for my cozy mysteries introduced me to Pawnee Bill’s wife—the inspiration for Lucy Ames in Wild West Christmas. Fun and colorful facts and characters crowd history. Join me on the treasure hunt!

Book giveaway: Please leave a comment any time between now and the end of June to win a copy of Prodigal Patriot. Also check out my blog for additional opportunities to win one of my books and titles from other amazing authors!

Prodigal Patriot may be purchased online at and

My website:

Sally Reid’s family decides on a dangerous course when the Tories of Maple Notch, Vermont, chase Patriot families off their land. They live in a cave and farm their land by moonlight.

When Josiah Tuttle discovers their secret and offers to help, Sally doesn’t know if she can trust him. After all, Josiah’s father is one of the Tories who forced her family into hiding.

The Tuttles have already lost one son to the hated Patriot cause. How can Josiah both honor his grieving father and protect the woman he loves? When called upon to take a stand, which side will he choose? How can Sally and Josiah battle through the barriers separating them to love and forgiveness?


K said...

thanks for the interview! The book sounds great!
I also like the little blurb about one of the unsold books:
"An asthmatic stage coach owner and a reclusive ranch owner (Texas, 1891)" It sounds so intriguing!

Please enter me in the draw! :)
Thanks and God bless!

Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug} said...

I enjoyed the interview and would love to read Prodigal Patriot :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

Carla Gade said...

Fantastic post, Darlene! Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes and it sure can give us great ideas to build a story on - or at least add some interest. You do a great job with this in your novels.


Kathleen L. Maher said...

History is full of stranger-than-fiction tales, just begging for a retelling. Your stories sound fascinating, Darlene.

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks for having me as your guest, Lauralee!

Barb said...

Ahh. Love Darlene's writing and would love to win this book!

Darlene Franklin said...

Kim, let's hope some day I find an editor some day who likes my asthmatic hero & reclusive rancher as well!

Rhonda Gibson said...

Great post Darlene. I love history and the way you weave it into your books.

Darlene Franklin said...

Carla, Rhonda, I know you love history the way I do. Cheryl, I look forward to getting to know you.

A J Hawke said...

Interesting post. I'm always curious how authors come up with their ideas.

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book.

A J Hawke