Navigating the Past

Scilla Calabria – image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It seems every time I put one of my characters in a ship, I have a nightmare with the research. In my manuscript entitled I Remember the White I couldn’t even find a suitable ocean liner for my character Miss Summerville to travel to Macedonia in during the last part of WWI. See my blog post from ten years ago here.

Now I’m nearing the end of my character Saran Linden’s voyage on the SS Ormonde in 1924. It’s been challenging to research as well. For the most part what is tricky is trying to find the coastlines and their appearance nearly 100 years ago. Youtube has quite a few videos travelling down the Suez Canal and cruising through the Straits of Messina but that is in this century and obviously the coastline has changed since the 1920s. 

Instead I have been looking at diaries of the period and have found a brief but useful one written by an Australian rower on the Ormonde in 1924. He’s on his way to compete in the 1924 Paris Olympics. I’ve also found quite a lot of photos of the Suez Canal so have been able to complete the scenes detailing what Sarah sees from the Ormonde when she is on deck. However there are not as many photos of the Straits of Messina so currently I’m struggling. Wish me luck in finding more as Sarah can’t wait for the ship to pass through the straits between Sicily and Calabria, Italy.

7 thoughts on “Navigating the Past

  1. I love that you get so immersed in accuracy–really cool! In my trilogy, The Melt Trilogy, I had both a similar and different research issue with my setting on a de-iced continent of Antarctica. I had to visualize what might happen to the land and that depended on how much water would encroach based on scientific projections of sea level rise. In my current writing in a modern setting, I can use Google Maps to zoom in and travel there (just returned from Wyoming a couple of weeks ago). It would be interesting to see if Google Maps has any historical search data base? Good luck and the detail acquired from research is worth it!

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    • Wow you are just as diligent as me. I use to google maps too. I’ve been going through some of the sites and checking rock formations and cliffs. They don’t change much in 100 years lol.

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    • Oh thanks so much Ruth. I’ve just got her through the Straits of Messina keeping the descriptions simple but now I have Naples to research. I mean what does she see when she gets off the ship except the wide expanse of the bay. Wish me luck. I hope you are keeping well and safe.

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