~ By Angela Kay Austin
I was born in Memphis, TN. As soon as I could, I packed my bags and headed off to D.C. never imagining myself to return to Memphis, under any circumstances.
But, what do you know, life had other plans.
Many of my books are set in Memphis, or another southern city. And my books deal with issues that are prominent in the south: religion, race, education, and more. Not that these issues don’t affect other parts of the United States, or other countries.
I guess that means that because of the writer I am—that I want to become, eventually, I would take a look at the American civil war. But, how does a writer who has never been much of a history buff do that? How do I build the world, create the characters, and develop a compelling enough story. And did I mention I see this story concept as a series?
For me that meant research, and a lot of it. Before I wrote the first word, I attended seminars on the American civil war. I purchased book after book detailing the civil war. I have timelines that show me what happened day by day. I have books on the guns they used, uniforms, and the conditions and lives of slaves. I’ve read slave narratives that tore at my heart and made me want to cry. Slave recounts that made be rethink my attempt to tell this story.
As I pulled the pieces of the story together, I continue to wonder, how do I write a romance set in a time in history filled with so much anger and hate? Is it possible to balance history with romance? How do I tell the tale of a runaway slave that is thoughtful, sincere, and emotional?
By using historically accurate locations, and true accounts of slave escapes, which I set it in and around true events of the day I am weaving together a book that makes me happy that I challenged myself as a writer. I’ve learned a lot about the period in American history that I didn’t remember or know. I’ve even learned a lot about my city of Memphis and the underground railroad that make me proud.
Now the hard part…finding a publishing house that will publish it J
How do you challenge yourself as a writer?
If you are interested in learning more about the American civil war, I suggest starting with the following sites:
- Slave narratives: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/wpa/wpahome.html
- Civil War in art: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/art_civil_war/#
- Civil War history: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/resources/wpa.html
- Civil War images: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/082_slave.html
- Women’s/Men’s clothing: http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/activities/dressup/notflash/1860_woman.html
Angela Kay Austin has always expressed herself through words. An infatuation with music and theater led to years playing music and extra roles in TV shows before giving way to a degree and career in radio and TV production. After completing a second degree in marketing, Angela found herself combining her love for communications and marketing and worked in advertising and promotions for many years. But, writing called again, which led to her first published work, which hit the best seller list for her publisher and All Romance Ebooks. Contact Angela — website: http://www.angelakayaustin.com/, blog: http://www.angelakayaustin.com/writing-dreaming-living/.