When I wrote The Priest & The Peaches, I did not anticipate it being classified as historical fiction. The story takes place in the mid 1960s and I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. I always thought of “historic” as being way before my time, not during my time. The first thing I had to do was make sure I was not dead yet. I calmed down when my own left hand smacked me in my head and I heard myself say, “Oh man, get over it.” I realized I was still breathing and I got over it.
The point is, I am far from being an authority on writing historical fiction. Since I actually experienced the point in time I was writing about much of my needed research was already categorized inside my head. All I had to do was begin opening dormant files that I had forgotten about. The writing helped me to open them. Somethings I did have to research such as clothing styles, hair styles, prices, automobiles and things like that. Otherwise, I had it easy being historical.
I do love history and there may very well be a historical work in my future. It may even have to do with the early Peach family going back to when their American journey began at Ellis Island. Here is what I can tell you. If you truly want to write historical fiction you must travel back in time (books, internet, letters, photos, etc) will help you get there. You have to “see” the streets, “smell” the odors, “talk” to the people and understand the culture of the time you are visiting. I might recommend as not only a learning tool but also an excellent read the book, Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires by Molly Roe and published by Tribute Books. It takes you back to the 1860s to the coal mining country of Pennsylvania. It captures beautifully the people, streets, homes, and lives including hopes and dreams of the folks living during those days. If you want a good example of historical fiction, check it out.