Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Michael Vance Gurley for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: The Long Season
Author: Michael Vance Gurley
Publisher: *Not Listed
Cover Artist: Jason Burian
Release Date: 06/14/2016
In Roaring Twenties Chicago, eighteen-year-old farm boy and hockey hopeful Brett Bennet is drafted to the big leagues of the city’s first ever team. His deepest secret catches fire when he meets the dashing but reclusive goalie, Jean-Paul Moreau. As they circle one another finding out who they truly are, their lives are changed in ways neither can control.
Brett will need the help of freewheeling flapper Margret to find a way to break through Jean-Paul’s ice, and to navigate the high stakes world of professional sports from the opening game through to the championship. Only together do they have a hope of facing the deadly threat of a man who can bring it all down with one word.
Digging Out of The Deep Hole of the Past
Hi. Thanks so much for having me. My new novel, The Long Season, is out now and can be purchased at Bold Strokes Books. The Long Season is set during the Roaring Twenties of Chicago, and massive amounts of research went into bringing the lives of gay hockey star Brett and his secret lover Jean-Paul to life in a way that led readers to believe in the era and in them. I wanted to talk to your readers about some of the joys and woes of doing deep research.
Doing any writing inevitably requires research, but historical fiction is dangerously tricky because as much as historical accuracy can paint a wonderful canvas, a writer can saturate the scene with such detail as to muddy the picture. I love history so I fell too far into the process many times, and found myself clinging desperately to tidbits I had learned. Luckily, other people pushed me to look at it again and decide how much to leave in. Some of my scenes were choked with my need to show off what I had learned, and I made the mistake of thinking that every reader would want to read about what type of phone or toothpaste was used in the Jazz Age. Spoiler: They don’t. Some people enjoy historical fact, and it is needed to establish authenticity, but an author needs to decide if facts support the fiction, or obscure it.
Brett travels on a train to Chicago to join the pro team where he was drafted. In researching trains and travel times to make the trip he took feel realistic, I came across a true train crash that occurred within days of my story. I learned all about it, read pages of information about the crash, the victims, the aftermath, only to reference it with only two lines in my novel. I mentioned chaos of construction taking place at the train station, and then had a character reference the crash pages later. Brett makes the connection. The real power comes from how sparingly the facts are used. Now, when I first wrote the scene, many of the facts entered dialogue and I felt I had dutifully presented a terrible moment in time. The problem was, my story, in the end, had nothing to do with the train crash. Using too much of it clouded my truth. Editing, and a good editor, allowed what was left to bring realism and give the character an epiphany. That was the whole point.
When is enough enough? There is no easy answer to that, but there is a clear difference to the reader when historical facts are done correctly. Let’s say you want to write about a gay romance taking place between Captain Smith and his second officer Lightoller on the doomed Titanic crossing. The characters are pretty well known due to the movies, but to paint the picture an author would have to describe the Titanic in a real way, sprinkling in descriptions of gangways and sea terms. If you find yourself going on and on for pages about steel strength when cold, you are too many nautical miles from the romance you want to pretend happened. If your subject or setting are less well known, more details are needed. In my novel, the Roaring Twenties are pretty well known to the average reader, but gay life and the hockey world are not, so those topics required extra love.
How do you make it real? In my novel, I described cars, trains, hockey rules, gay clubs, and speakeasies with realism and facts, only to edit out anything that sounded too self serving or did not add to the picture I was painting. I also had to let go of any fear of stretching or twisting things if needed to spice up an angle. Pushing the boundaries on fact is what makes it fiction. When using actual famous people from the past, it is scary to turn their characteristics on their sides to make them a part of your story. The point is that in order to make them your characters, and to make history your setting, you have to let go of the fear of desecrating the past.
I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my thoughts on research. I hope everyone will check out my historical fiction novel, The Long Season, which is out now.
I am happy to announce that Bold Strokes Books and I will be giving away an ebook copy of The Long Season to a random commenter. Just leave a comment to win your copy now.
About the Author
Michael was born in a Chicago hospital that was quickly condemned and torn down. He grew up and worked in the shadow of Capone’s house in a union hall, where he first discovered a love of gangsters and the Roaring Twenties. Being an avid hockey fan led him to kissing the Stanley Cup, and as an ardent traveler, he kissed the Blarney Stone, both of which are unsanitary and from which he’s lucky to only have received the gift of gab. Michael has many literary interests and aspirations. He self-published One Angry Koala, a well received comic book. His poetry has been printed in the Southern Illinois University newspaper, which was a real big deal back then.
Michael has worked with special needs children for nearly twenty years. His work with young adults led to a love of YA books, but he was raised with classic horror, beat poetry, and comics. As winner of a “Pitchapalooza” author event, Michael received some helpful guidance for his first novel, The Long Season, by literary agent/authors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, and editor Jerry Wheeler. Michael still lives in the Chicagoland area, and despite it being cliché, gets asked about gangsters whenever traveling abroad.
Michael is in the middle of his blog tour. You can read interviews and guest posts on:
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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