Last week my two young women, Sarah and Louie, were walking down Pitt Street in Sydney in 1924 way before I was ready for them to even leave their houses! If you look carefully at the image above you will see hashes. Yep that’s where I’m missing information. They are catching trams, going into little cafes for cups of tea, having lunch etc before I’m even organised.
I want to stop right in front of them with my notebook and say, “Excuse me, if you could just tell me which tram you caught this morning. Or even if there is a tram from Elizabeth Bay. I also need the name of the cafe you are going to. How much is a pot of tea in February 1924 would be helpful too. And what’s with this marocain stuff? Why does everybody seem to be wearing it? I mean what does it look like? And do you know, girls, that your dresses are great but your shoes! Don’t get me started on the awfulness of shoes in the Twenties. I will do you both a favour and avoid mentioning them.”
There is so much to hunt down and check. For instance I still don’t have Louie’s last name but there is a suggestion already that her family is wealthier that Sarah’s. Sarah’s father, Henry Montague, works in Pitt Street in finance I think but at this stage I’m not sure what he does exactly.
There’s an interesting Swiss German with a yacht but I have no idea how he is going to make his way into the novel. By boat you are probably thinking to yourself. Tempting but how to work that in. Have Sarah in a dinghy in Rushcutters Bay drifting aimlessly? There is the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia nearby so may be, but another research point to check – was the club there in 1924?
In the scene I am working on now, Sarah and Toby Linden are walking in Hyde Park, enjoying the green shade away from the busy streets of Sydney. But wait…No they are not! After looking for some images of Hyde Park around that time I discovered this:
Hyde Park was dug up for the new underground railway in 1919 and wasn’t beginning to look like the Hyde Park we know and love until 1926. My characters are determined on a romantic walk (well sort of) and a park must be found. Botanical Gardens? Hold on, I’ll just go and check!
Your post spotlights the research involved in writing a genuine, authentic historical novel. I’m sure you come across very interesting facts! 🙂
I certainly do Margaret. It is lots of fun and very challenging!
What a difference it makes if you love what you’re doing! Best of luck. 🙂
Thank you Margaret! You obviously enjoy writing too!
I’m halfway through a writing project– a novella. It’s a good feeling to be getting somewhere. 🙂
That’s wonderful Margaret. Good to hear!
Ah, ah, ah! Sounds like what I’m doing.
But you’re right, if you love your subject, there’s nothing you’re not willing to research. For me, so far, the more challanging matter was reserching a speakeasy’s working hours and deliveries. After four years of research, I think I’m finally pinning this down.
That must have been tricky from so far away. I’m trolling photos too. Still can’t find photos of several cafes where Sydney Bohemians hung out. Are you now up to beginning the second book? I’m currently searching for details about Sydney’s Central Police Station in the 20s.
I often feel my research would be a lot easier and more accurate if I could get my hands on materials in Chicago libreries, but… well… I’m trying my best with what I have.
My trilogy is actually complete, if at a early stage. I wrote and revised once the entire trilogy and now I’m working to get the first novel polished and ready to send out.
Central Police Station, uh? You know, one would think if you know exactly what you’re researching, you should be able to find everything you need.
Well… not so, eh?
Good luck with sending it out. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of hard yakka as we say over here! I’m sure I’ll find some details about the Police Station. I just need to stop going through endless emails and get back to my research, lol!