Historical fiction is a complex genre. It can strive to be as absolutely accurate as the writer can make it (as I attempted in Crispin: Cross of Lead) or it may go no further than to create a general sense of time and place (as in Midnight Magic). The work that is merely dressed up in a general sense of time and place is rather like a musical comedy. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, and in fact there are some real advantages. The primary advantage is that one can deal with very modern ideas and simply place them where one can have the most fun.
Powerful photographs helped change the tide of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Some of these very photos moved author Elizabeth Partridge (goddaughter of the influential photographer Dorothea Lange) when she saw them 40 years later. Consider the role that photographs, books, and interviews play in historical research as Partridge discusses her process of selecting viable sources for Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary (Penguin, 2009).
I went to Ghana several years ago and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the land and people, as well as the history of the place that hovered just out of reach. When I visited the slave castles, where millions of Africans were housed like cattle before being shipped as cargo and sold as slaves, I felt their spirits crying out to me. Crawling on my hands and knees through the Door of No Return, which led from the darkness of the prison to the incomprehensible vastness of a beach, I knew I must tell the story of someone who had passed that way.
Claudette Colvin, in 1955, was a 15-year-old African American girl growing up in Alabama. She refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama a full nine months before Rosa Parks later became famous by doing the same thing.
Why memorize poetry? For the sheer joy of it! If there is a poem you love, nothing is more satisfying than committing it to memory. You’ll get to know the work far more deeply when you have read it aloud a number of times and familiarized yourself with its rhymes, rhythms, and repetitions as part of a living composition.
The reason I write about sports, women's history, and women's sports history, is that I grew up loving sports. I graduated from high school the week before Title IX was passed, so I didn't have opportunities to play in school, like girls do today. I played at camp, on the street, and with my father and my brother.
When I’m working on a book, there’s a perfectly balanced moment when anything seems possible. It comes as I’m well into the research, bursting with ideas and dreams and enthusiasm. Once I start writing, it’s not long before I crash. Reality sets in fast: not everything that fascinates me is going to fit between the covers of a book.
Everyone in education has heard about different learning styles; some of the most prominent are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Perhaps educators have even considered their own learning style and how it influences teaching. But, has consideration ever been given to how these learning styles impact inspiration, interest, and research for a project that follows the inquiry process?
Fall is in the air, which, after a hot Santa Fe summer, feels welcome. I've planted a few pansies and am slowly moving some potted plants inside into what I call my winter garden. When the cold northern New Mexico winter arrives, the clerestory windows above our entry atrium will bring welcome sun to my plants—and me. Along with mulling over which green companions to nurture during the coming months, I'm thinking about what writing projects to begin.
As goals of information literacy have been expanded to include skills and attitudes that ultimately allow students to construct their own knowledge based on deep learning of interest to them, all of us can gain insight from professional authors who naturally incorporate those inquiry skills and attitudes into their own writing process.