Posts Tagged Historical Research
Researching the Past
Posted by Sally Jenkins in Authors, Books, Resources on February 9, 2023
I am delighted to have Choc Lit novelist, Victoria Cornwall, with me today, sharing research secrets from her new WWII novel, Waiting for Our Rainbow. Over to Victoria:
I have an interest in WW2, so researching for my latest release, Waiting For Our Rainbow, was particularly fascinating. From 1942, thousands of American soldiers began arriving in England, many of whom ended up in Cornwall. Who were these men? Where did they come from? What did they do while they were here?
My research began on the internet. I discovered it was the 29th Infantry Division who came to Cornwall, which gave me a starting point. Through Facebook and dedicated websites, I contacted several historians who were experts on the division and the training they undertook after their arrival in England. They answered many of my questions and provided me with lots of information. I also came across the US government’s advice booklet they issued to their soldiers to help them with the cultural differences they would face on their arrival to England.
I’d grown up knowing African American soldiers were also billeted to Cornwall. What role did they play? Why were their camps separate from the combat soldiers’ camps? I was concerned about writing this part of the novel because at the time racial tensions were particularly high. I could not ignore the important role they played, but I knew that if I wrote about it I wanted to remain true to the era and dialogue without contemporary attitudes and pressures making me water it down. Fortunately, I came across a collection of video interviews, where African American veterans recalled their experience of joining the army, the segregation they faced and their frustrations at not being given combat roles at the beginning. There is a pivotal scene in Waiting For Our Rainbow, where a small group of African American soldiers notice Joe, a white soldier, entering their encampment. The scene and dialogue that follows were inspired by those veterans’ memories and experiences.
Next was the local community… how did they feel about American soldiers invading their county? I was able to talk to some people who were there at the time, but I also read archived newspaper articles and a couple of childhood memoirs which were extremely helpful. I also read the BBC’s online memory collection, WW2 Peoples War, which is a brilliant resource.
My final research was to visit some of the places. Fortunately, I live in Cornwall so it was easy for me to do. It was a humbling experience to stand in the same places where American soldiers had once stood. They were young men, many with little to no experience of combat but, along with British and Canadian soldiers, they took part in the largest amphibious military assault in history – but they could not have done it without the help, knowledge and support of many others. Also taking part in the success of D Day were sailors, soldiers and airmen from Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and others. In addition, the skills of meteorologists, scientists, inventors and the French Resistance were used during its planning and implementation.
Waiting For Our Rainbow concentrates on Joe, an American soldier, and Anne, a young Cornish woman. Ultimately it is a normal romance between a man and a woman, yet it is set at a pivotal time in the history of the war that would affect their romance, the decisions they make and the course of their lives for decades to come.
Waiting For Our Rainbow was released as an Ebook on 31st January, 2023. A paperback and audio version will follow shortly afterwards.
About Victoria Cornwall
Victoria grew up on a farm in Cornwall and is married with two grown up children and three grandchildren. She likes to read and write historical romance with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.
Her books have reached the finals of the NEW TALENT AWARD at the Festival of Romantic Fiction, the RNA’s JOAN HESSAYON AWARD, the 2021 RNA’s Goldsboro Books HISTORICAL ROMANTIC NOVEL AWARD. Her books have also been twice nominated for the RONE Best Indie or Small Published Book Award by InD’tale magazine.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Find Victoria on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
About Waiting For Our Rainbow
Would you give your heart away if you knew it could only end in goodbye?
It should have been a time of romance and excitement for Anne – but it’s 1941 and the war is raging. So instead, she spends her days repairing spitfire wings and reminding herself that the real sacrifice is going on far away from her Cornish village.
When the news breaks that America has entered the war, it brings cautious hope to Anne and her family. And eventually, as the Jeeps filled with GIs roll in, it seems their little community is to play a pivotal role in the next stage of the fight.
But the Americans don’t just bring Hollywood glamour and optimism, they also bring something more tantalising – so when Anne meets handsome Joe Mallory, she has to remind herself of exactly why he’s there; that any relationship between them could only end in goodbye.
But is the inevitability of ‘goodbye’ powerful enough to stop what has already begun to blossom?
Choc Lit, Historical Fiction, Historical Research, Victoria Cornwall, World War 2
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