#IWSG: Post-War London

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThe Insecure Writers Support Group is a marvellous group set up by Alex Cavanagh. On the first Wednesday of every month, members post thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

The link above takes you to details about the group and how to join. You’ll also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge – do check them out.

The awesome co-hosts for this month are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!


This month’s question – What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

While I love the idea that writers – especially those who write murder mysteries – have the most wonderful search histories, I’m afraid mine is rather dull & mundane.

The strangest thing I’ve ever googled was where the bombs fell on England during WWII. In the end, my historian boyfriend tracked down a map showing the location and type of all the bombs which fell on London, and other parts of England. It’s proved terrifically useful for my current co-written WIP – provisionally entitled “November Deadline” – a post-war thriller with fantasy elements.

The action segments take place in the area of East London now known as Docklands, where a lot of development has taken place after it sustained a vast amount of bomb damage during WWII. In doing my research, I’ve taken many a digital walk around London, alongside the River Thames and in the East End, spending hours looking at old photographs of the area to get a clearer picture of the London our characters would experience.

I’m fortunate in knowing West London pretty well and, whilst there have been changes since WWII, I had only limited research to do when our story takes place in that part of town. But I was very much in the dark about East London, and all that research has left me with a strong urge to walk the ground as it is now.

I’m a stickler for accuracy in fiction, even when the history is recent. Do you think it is ever OK to make a factual error in fiction?


© Debra Carey, 2019

16 comments

  1. I can give you a great resource for anything about GB. He blogs and I love to read his posts, and he’s written a book that I’m now enjoying. The blog is A Bit About Britain. You might find it helpful, and he’s open to contact. Thanks for being a IWSG member. Great to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How lovely, thanks so much, I’ll hop on over there to check it out. Great to meet you too 🙂

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  3. Helen, I think you may be right there! 🙂 Luckily, we’re planning to write a series, so I’m going enjoy indulging myself in the research!

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  4. It truly has been Natalie. Particularly as I didn’t grow up here, so there’s oodles for me to uncover! 🙂

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  5. Worse, they probably won’t finish your book and won’t try anything else you write in the future.
    Or maybe that’s just me in my guise as reader 😉

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  6. I would say that if you’re referencing real history, it’s important to be accurate. If it doesn’t work for the story you have planned, the story would go into the realm of alternate history, but can certainly then be labeled as such.

    I read a book recently that was shown to have a lot of historical details wrong. The author explained it by basically saying, “That’s how it was accounted to me by my source, so that’s what I wrote.” Plenty of people accepted that response. It left a bad taste in my mouth though, especially since the author’s note says that the facts were checked by several people. If she writes historical fiction in the future, I’ll probably give it a hard pass.

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  7. We just watched the final episode of the Durrells in Corfu, where they decide to leave and head back to England. I thought as I watched, “Oh dear, they have no idea yet.” Hopefully none of them fell victim to German bombing.

    I guess I sort of allow one or two instances of literary license, but probably no more than that. I get frustrated too much when my own knowledge of facts collide with a narrative. – Marty

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  8. Marty, you’re nicer than me – I was shaking my head about the bubble they chose to live in 🙂
    Spoiler alert – they didn’t fall victim to the bombing. Keeley Hawes (the actress who played Louisa) did a follow up programme to bring us up to date on what happened after the series finished. They all went on to live long lives.

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  9. Alex, the funny thing is my daughter had not long moved to the East end of London shortly before we sat down to write this story. It’s both helped and hindered me in exploring, as I’m far too often tempted to enjoy time with my granddaughter instead of getting out there and seeing it in person whenever I’m nearby.

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  10. Kristi, that explanation wouldn’t fly with me at all. Like you, I’d be giving it a hard pass too. Multiple credible sources are important with historical facts for me because of exactly your reaction.

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