Friends, today I'm honored to have award-winning, bestselling author Jody Hedlund here to tell us about her research trip for her latest release, Captured by Love. (Btw, I recently finished her book, and will share writing lessons learned in the near future)
Take it away, Jody!
Behind the Scenes of Captured by Love
A Research Trip to Mackinac Island (Part 1)
Research is an integral part of writing historical novels. Obviously there are many ways to research including reading biographies, studying time-period books, finding original journals or documents from that era, and reading other novels or watching movies about the topic (and then analyzing them).
Those are all critical and important ways to research for a novel.
Another way I like to research is by taking trips to the location of my books. While a trip is a helpful and fun way to glean more information for my stories, I don't consider those trips to be quite as crucial as the other kind of research I mentioned.
Yes, trips can be helpful. But usually SO much has changed in one hundred and fifty years, that it's difficult to "see" the location as it would have been at the time of the story. Buildings, landmarks, vegetation, and physical geography (like coast lines, rock formations, clearings) have changed, sometimes even drastically.
Nevertheless, whenever possible, I try to go visit the settings of my books. I'm still able to glean
When it came time to plan a research trip for Captured by Love, I was really excited. It had been several years since I'd visited Mackinac Island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I was eager for an excuse to go back! I asked my mom and two older daughters if they'd like to go with. And I really had to twist their arms to go! *wink!*
As time would have it, the trip had to wait until the end of September. But that actually ended up being a beautiful time to drive north because the leaves were just beginning to change. That meant we were greeted by vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and magenta as we drove the three hours from my home in the central part of the state, crossed the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, and entered the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Mackinac Island is only accessible by boat and no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. Many visitors bring their bikes along and others rent bikes when they arrive. There is also the option of taking horse-drawn carriage rides, which was our preferred mode of transportation.
With the breeze blowing off Lake Huron, even on the sunny day, we were actually quite cool and had to use the wool blankets they provided to stay warm during our carriage ride.
Our guide for the tour was a history connoisseur of the island which the history buff in me absolutely loved.
I learned an incredible amount during the several hours we rode about the island. Here are a few interesting facts:
- Lilacs aren't native to Mackinac Island. The French brought them over as well as dandelions (which they used for wine)
- The island is 3 miles wide and 4 miles long
- Mackinac is the old French spelling for the island and Mackinaw is the English version
- In the winter ice forms 3 miles wide around the island, so that it is inaccessible to ships
- Because of the lake effect, it's not unusual to have up to 8 ft. of snow at one time
- Only a couple of feet of soil cover the island. The rest of the island consists mostly of limestone.
During the carriage ride, we stopped at Arch Rock, which is a fascinating rock formation that is in the shape of–you guessed it–an arch. The view of the island from the top of the arch is spectacular. I could see up and down the coast of the island in both directions.
It was the perfect place to imagine that I was Angelique MacKenzie (the heroine of Captured by Love). I wanted to get into her mind, fall in love with the island, and see it's amazing beauty and the solidness it offers amidst the seas the surround it.
Join me in the next post as I share more about my research trip on Mackinac Island, specifically my visit to the old military fort there.
How about you? Have you ever visited Mackinac Island? What's your favorite thing about the island? And for those who haven't visited, what's your favorite vacation destination?
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Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances. As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories. She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.