Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I never realized when I started out writing historical romance that I would need to develop an archeologist’s skill when combing the internet. On top of crafting a good story, writing anything with historical significance requires a general knowledge and level of accuracy that readers of the genre have grown to expect. 

My latest novel, Dark Road Home, for example, definitely required more research than anything I’ve published so far. Set in and around New York City with key scenes taking place on Ellis Island, I knew early on that I would need to conduct careful study on the more than twelve million immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. It wasn’t enough to know how they came, however. I wanted to figure out why, so beginning at the Ellis Island Foundation’s website, I began looking for letters, pictures, anything I could find that would give insight into the motivation behind so many peoples’ journey. This in turn led me to other sites, like Ancestory.com and the National Park Service website, which were full of information regarding not only the history of the island, but of the people who passed through on their way to a new life in America.

Along with filling the story with facts about our nation’s history, Dark Road Home is about an Irish girl running from her past and a man with dangerous political affiliations, so on top of all of the historical facts I could dig up about New York in 1897, I had to research Ireland and everything that was occurring during the same time period there. That meant learning what I could about the conflict in Ireland—its origins and history. Once again, I tackled the internet, beginning with a simple Google search on “why Ireland is divided”. This led me to a number of sites, including ibiblio.org and encyclopedia.com. Remember those research papers your English teacher made you do in high school and college? Researching my book was a lot like that!

While it would have been easy to pack all kinds of historical facts into my novel, I had to keep in mind that this was a work of fiction, and that it needed a strong romantic thread. That meant finding a careful balance between what was true, and what was meant to entertain. Too much of one, and the reader would get board. Too little of another, and the work became less of a historical. In the end, I discovered that sorting out tidbits of information and dropping them into a fictional tale is a lot like digging treasures from the earth—it requires patience and a good deal of dedication. Hopefully, the end result is something the reader not only enjoys, but learns from as well.

BOOK BLURB: Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

Also, be sure to check out Book Two in the Edge of Freedom Series, Dark Road Home
Ana Kavanagh's only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen.

At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger--his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors--all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana's past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow--and where to finally place his trust.

For your enjoyment, return Friday for a chance to win Elizabeth's new release, Dark Road Home!

Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, Books One and Two in the Edge of Freedom series. Her work has also been featured on Novel Rocket, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Elizabeth’s debut novel, Where the Truth Lies (coauthored with Janelle Mowery), earned her the IWA Writer of the Year Award. Her first historical novel, Love Finds You in Calico, California, was given four stars from Romantic Times. And her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and two grown children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.


  1. Research can be fun! Here's a great website that I used when write the Edge of Freedom Series: http://www.ellisisland.org/

  2. And here's another great site with some rather...spooky...images from the Edge of Freedom Series: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vilseskogen/3339347047/

  3. Personally, I love the research! There is nothing like diving into another world--another time and place--to better understand the foundation of setting upon which you'll write your story.

  4. I agree, Sandra. My problem comes when I get so sidetracked researching that it infringes on my writing. Sometimes, I have to just make myself stop searching and start writing.


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