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Diana Gabaldon

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The Elephant in the Room

Through the Mist: Restoration (TTMR) is historical fiction with a time travel twist. Wow – that sounds shockingly familiar. Outlander, anyone?

I freely admit that I am a fan of the Outlander series. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction. Diana Gabaldon created an amazing world and clearly does a significant amount of research for her novels. I never feel as if my brain is losing cells when I read her books. I learn stuff. So, if you have not figured it out already – yes, read her books. They are fantastic.

The idea for TTMR came to me after I read Outlander for the 400th time as well as other books in the time travel/historical fiction genre. In a lot of those books, the heroine is not bothered by the basic inconveniences of life hundreds of years ago. For example, in Outlander, Claire grew up with her archaeologist uncle, so “roughing it” was not a big deal for her.

I can assure you that not having a toilet and shower would be a big deal for me. I want to walk to the faucet, flip on the tap, and have fresh water. Also, I need mochas and chocolate.

Maybe I was onto something. How would a woman who was accustomed to all the basic conveniences of modern life react if she suddenly found herself without them, because she was transported to another time? What would she do if she had no way of returning home? Could she adapt?

I have Scottish ancestry so that country was already fascinating to me. And, Outlander has raised our awareness of Scotland’s history, particularly during the infamous ‘45. I began researching what life would have been like during various eras. I quickly found a lot of material for the Regency period that happens around the time my novel is set. That period is also the setting for Jane Austen’s work, and I love her books too. With rich historical documents at my fingertips, I decided that would be a great time in which to “set” my books. An added bonus was that the Outlander series does not occur in that time. I would not tread upon holy ground, so to speak. (Seriously, read her books, folks.)

As I continued to dig, the characters in my story came to life in my mind. Soon, it became more about telling their story than rehashing facts and statistics about living in 1801. You will see some references to clothing, food, and things like that. I do not dwell on it, though. I realized that it is about Benjamin and Tilly, not the chamber pot.

In the end, I have Diana Gabaldon to thank for sparking my imagination. However, TTMR is not Outlander – and that is perfectly fine.

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