Friday, June 10, 2016

Linking Historical Events to the Present

by  Jean Henry Mead

I enjoy research, especially when I can link historical events to the present. So when I came across the Teutonic Knights, a group established in the year 1190, as well as the Heart Mountain internment camp of World War II, I worked them both into my recent release, Mystery of the Black Cross. The Teutonic Knights was formed to establish hospitals and escort pilgrimages to the Baltics and the Holy Land. The organization evolved, however, into anarchist groups, abbreviated ABC, which still support political prisoners worldwide.

During this seventh Logan and Cafferty novel, my senior women amateur sleuths discover a black cross painted on their front door, which they learn has marked them for arson and murder. The police chief and a rogue detective, who considers himself a latter day Don Juan, figure prominently in the plot, which led me to Wyoming's Heart Mountain internment camp for some 14,000 Japanese during WW II.

I made a trip to northern Wyoming to witness the former internment camp, which I consider a concentration camp. Four of the barracks where the internees lived still remain along with a guard tower. The living conditions were deplorable, and I read interviews with some of the people who had lived there, which I included in the book.

When the war ended, each former prisoner was given a train ticket back to the West Coast and $25 to begin a new life. And Congress finally decided in 1988 and 1992 to compensate the survivors for the loss of their homes and livelihoods. The state of Wyoming also erected a monument years later to commemorate those who enlisted from within the camp to serve in the army during the war. 

Working both histories into the novel was easier than I had anticipated. I also included some humor and a bit of romance to hopefully balance the seriousness and relevancy to the history we're producing today.

Mystery of the Black Cross is available at in digital and print editions. 


Morgan Mandel said...

I'm one of the lazy authors who doesn't enjoy doing research. However, afterward, I'm happy I did it.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Morgan, I think readers appreciate authenticity in the books they read. I've known fledgling writers who think that it's okay to write off the top of their heads and then wonder why their books don't sell.

jrlindermuth said...

I love research and, like Jean, I think it's important to get the facts right in a story. The only problem with research is it can be distracting and lead you off on tangents. But, hey, who knows, you might stumble on another story idea.

Marja said...

I'm reading the book right now, about half way through, and I find it to be a very unique story. Thanks for sharing!

Jean Henry Mead said...

I agree, John. Research can be very time consuming, but it can fill your fire cabinet with great ideas for future novels although it takes time away from the actual writing.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Marja. I aim for unique. : )