Carrie, thank you for asking me to write about the resources I used during the research process. I do, though, have a confession to make. I told very few people, including the librarians who helped me, that I was writing a novel. The very word intimidated me. Instead, I said I was working on a project. When the book was published, I finally told them. The librarians weren’t surprised since they had guessed that long ago. Detectives at heart, librarians cannot be fooled.
When I started, the Internet wasn’t the tool that it is today. Instead, I packed paper and pencil and went to the public library in Des Moines, Iowa, where I lived at the time. Perched on a stool at the catalogue, I started with African-American homesteaders. I found John Ravage’s Black Pioneers, and I was off and running.
Soon after the discovery of Ravage’s book, I moved back to
The library was also the place where I went when I was overwhelmed by the writing process. The atmosphere soothed my nerves, and the stacks of books reminded me that other writers had gone before me. Another resource was the library at
During the residency, I talked to local people. Some of their stories, such as an electrical ball of fire that travels along a stove pipe, found a place in Rachel DuPree. In Wall,
Thank goodness for museums. In eastern
A major eureka moment was the discovery of Ida B. Wells Barnett. I came across her name while reading a library book about
Each piece of research impacted the story. Not every detail was included but a solid foundation in historical facts gave me the confidence to write a novel – rather than a project -- about a woman who lived a life very different than my own.
Many thanks to Ann for taking the time to tell about the research behind Rachel DuPree. You can buy The Secret History of Rachel DuPree from Amazon in paperback or for the Kindle. I hope Ann will come back when her next book is published and tell us about the research for it too.
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