The hardest part and also the most rewarding in the writing of historical fiction is getting the details right; for that you need either a staff of research people, unlimited time, or helpful collaborators. While I was writing Into the Wilderness I had a great collaboration going with a few people I met on the research & craft board at Compuserve. It has been many years since I belonged to Compuserve, and I’ve lost track of most of those folks. It’s the down-side of the internet, the way people drift away.
Kaera H. was one of the people who was most helpful to me (I don’t know how helpful I was to her, but I tried), especially when it came to writing about horses. She had to steer me right many times, but it was always great when I finally got something right:
Me: “Richard was leaning out over the backs of the geldings, shouting to them, but they raced on, great gouts of ice and mush hurtling up from their hooves.”
Kaera: This is terrific. I just had to highlight it because it’s so perfect.
Nothing like an idiot, shouting at the horses, feeding their hysteria —
expecting them to settle down. He totally lost it, right along with the
horses! I loved it.
Don’t know where Kaera disappeared to, but I still think of her and consult her old emails when I’m writing a bit about a horse — as I was today. I wish her well and hope she’s content, whereever she has landed.