As part of my Great Reorganization of Seed of Glory Sown in Sorrow, I’m amplifying several previously-downplayed subplots in what is now Book Two, as well as introducing brand-new locales and characters. One aspect of the latter project involves going back in time and out-of-world—to visit Hugh Conrad before he’d ever heard of Arlam.
This is a thrilling prospect, because Hugh has an eventful backstory. And not only does this allow me to open Book Two with a James-Bond-style “featurette intro” as I do with the series’ other installments, it also sets the stage for Hugh’s latter, more controversial decisions—planting the reader more deeply into his mindset from the outset, building sympathy for a character who simply doesn’t care about your opinion.
However, this new, chapter-length scene takes place on Earth. And not a small-scale fictional location, either: in a very specific—and foreign—historical time and place. Previously, my narrative forays to Earth hadn’t ventured beyond tightly-controlled environments: mainly an isolated rural estate in upstate New York.
This is different. This time, I may actually offend knowledgable readers if I get details wrong. So my first day writing the scene in question was spent poring through online archives that covered everything from historical social relations to the provenance of specific backroads to the inner workings of very dated technology.
I have huge respect for writers of historical fiction (and nonfiction!), but this experience reinforces my lack of desire to become one. Writing fake worlds certainly has its perks.