The first three books in my Music Box Series are now available as a boxed set! In this series, a music box brings three generations of couples together, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1923 to Vancouver, B.C., in 1957. One reviewer said: “I treasure a story that weaves a tale that lingers long after the last page has been turned and this talented author accomplishes just that.”
I find historical fiction enjoyable and rewarding to write, but delving into a different era from your own requires a good deal of research. The series begins with Sense of Touch, set in Halifax. I’ve only visited the east-coast port city a couple of times. Fortunately, there is a good deal of material available about Halifax at the time I was writing about because of the catastrophic explosion that took place there and served as the backdrop for my story.
For the second and third books, I relied much more on my parents for research, pestering them relentlessly with questions about their childhoods. I set Someone Like You in 1947 and used the tiny house in the outskirts of Ottawa, Ontario, where my dad grew up as the model for the Walker house. The house was near a popular park and beach that we visited regularly when I was a kid in the 1970s, although by then it had been renovated beyond recognition. Interviewing Dad, I learned much more about his childhood than I’d ever known. What it was like living without plumbing and travelling by streetcar? How was the city I grew up in different in the decades before I was born? I used some of his reminiscences in the book.
I set Heart’s Desire in the west-coast city of Vancouver in 1957, using the affluent neighbourhood where my mother grew up as the setting. When I was a kid, every couple of years my family would drive across Canada to Vancouver to visit my grandmother. I have many fond memories of the lush gardens, the beach with breathtaking mountains rising across the bay, and the world-renowned Stanley Park as one of our regular haunts. Mom told me about clothing, music, cars, and attitudes of the 1950s. In the story I recreated the diner she frequented with her friends (changing the name slightly) and even included her childhood dog.
The next volume in the series, soon to be released, is set in the 1970s. It’s much easier for me to write about this era, as I have plenty of my own memories from that time. I was too young to pay attention to politics or world affairs, but I do remember some of the trends, fashions and music. (Find out when it’s available by signing up for our newsletter!)
Little touches of reality bring the stories alive for me, and I hope the same is true for my readers.