My first experience with writing historical fiction was, in a word, fraught.
The research. I knew a lot about the practical aspects of life in my chosen era, but almost nothing about the manners, fashion, slang, currency, economy, politics, or geography of it. All had to be researched. People claim to do a lot of research for fantasy novels? Honey, I’ve written light fantasy/sci-fi, and that ain’t much research. When you write a historical you know you’ll be pounced upon for every minor inconsistency, so if you are vain, as I am, you have a fire under you to minimize them.
The story, as I’ve discussed before, didn’t come easy. Working with a narrator whose mind you can neither intuit nor invent is surprisingly difficult, if you’re used to writing more-or-less modern main characters with attitudes more-or-less like your own. My male lead couldn’t behave the way I like my male leads to behave, either. The two of them together (or should I say three?) couldn’t behave the way I’d like a couple to behave. In short, NO ONE in the book behaved the way I’d have preferred them to behave. The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
But oh, there is one sweet reward for writing historical fiction … and oh, I got it. You are writing about real places, and if you’re lucky, you get to go to them.
My characters. Their fort. Their quarters. Their store. Their bags, bundles, traps, bolts, firkins, guns, nails, blankets, kettles, and carrots of tobacco. I. Was. There.