History with a Twist

Griswold Auditorium side view

It’s no secret that The Chemical Attraction Series is based on Allegan, Michigan. That’s three books and a fourth to be published later this year. Although my husband and I have only lived here for four years, I’ve worked here for over twenty and claim it as my hometown.

So when the city manager with ten years of notes on the history of Allegan asked if I’d write a story using it, I was thrilled … and honored. Then I thought, holy moly, how was I going to do that? Where do I start? Well, Google has become my new best friend.

I found a great article by Dave Hood about creative nonfiction history, which “presents facts and cause and effects but also adds narrative including storytelling, dialogue, setting, and character development.”

At first, I thought the genre I’d write in would be creative historical nonfiction, but now I think it’s still fiction, specifically historical fiction. This genre, in which the story is made up, is set in the past and borrows characteristics of the time period, basically fictional characters in documented situations and/or fictional characters in fictional situations but in the context of a real historical period. BINGO!

In my Series, I’ve used real places in Allegan (aka Allenton) and fictional people. In this next story, main characters will still be fiction even though I’m using the real history of Allegan.

My plan is to create people to observe and participate on the periphery of the town’s history but still have lives and adventures of their own. How boring would this story be if they didn’t? I love the idea of connecting this story with my series, so I’m going to use Matt Connor’s family tree since his family has lived in the town since it became a town. (Okay, I just made up that last part, but see, I’ve already gotten the creative juices flowing.)

With the basic ideas set, my next step is to outline Allegan’s history focusing on major events peppering in a few minor ones. I’ve gotten off to a great start with notes from the city manager, Allegan: Images of America by Nancy J Ingalsbee and Carol B. Garofalo, and Allegan’s History by Joe Armstrong and John Pahl.

Then, I’ll outline my people and plot. I have a feeling I’ll be camping out at the Allegan District Library for the summer. What do you think? Is this the best way to take on this huge undertaking? Please, comments are appreciated. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Inset picture is the Griswold Auditorium (aka the Hartford Auditorium from the Series)

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