I've been working on my non-fiction book, but there are some elements that are taken directly from my family, some experiences that come from my family's background. I was working on a particular instance with my maternal Grandfather who was, among other things, a fisherman off Harpswell. I needed to know what kind of boat he was using at the time between WWI and WWII. Now, I could just Google and find the answers, but there were too many different factors to take into account. What was used in Harpswell at that time? Even, what kind of boat would my grandfather have actually had access to at that time? This things can just not be Googled.
So I went to my next best reference... my dad. He is a great source of reference for anything that had an engine, boat or otherwise, during this time. Did you know that it was common during that time for fishermen to have either a Hampton style boat? Or a boat called a Peapod, which was shaped like the vegetable? I didn't. He even went on to tell me that the simple engines that they used at that time had to be cranked to start and there was no reverse. The only way to reverse a boat when it was coming into the dock was to catch the motor at a certain point in it's workings and to throw the controlling lever. It didn't always work and more than one boat hit the wharf. The engines made a put-put noise and were loud. Very important for a story when you are trying to build atmosphere. Could they have heard over the engine? Probably not.
So, when looking for references and information, don't discount those that are around you. Not only can they tell you the pieces that can't be Googled, but you are preserving some of those details for the future.
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