I learned lots of interesting things while researching and writing my novel Lost on the Prairie.
In one scene in my book two train passengers are playing the game Toboggans and Stairs. My hero Peter who is from the United States has played Snakes and Ladders but has never heard of this Canadian version of the game which was popular at the turn of the century. I found images of some of the old Toboggans and Stairs games so I would know what it looked like.
Another scene in my novel takes place in millinery shop. At the turn of the century millinery shops not only sold hats they designed and made them as well. To find out how a shop in the early 1900s might have looked I studied two paintings done by famous artists around that time.
In one chapter of Lost on the Prairie my hero Peter helps out for a day at a mill. I needed to know how a mill works for this scene and so I watched a video featuring an old friend of mine Al Hamm. The video is made by Farmery Brewery and in it Al explains how barley from the brewery is ground into flour which the company uses for a line of products that includes pancake mix and fish batter.
“Prince clomps right up to the lake and sinks his muzzle into its blue depths sucking up the water and swallowing it in huge gusty gulps. After a bit he rears his head up and swooshes it around in his mouth streams pouring down from his tongue and teeth.”
Illustration by Victorian artist Randolph Caldecott
I learned about so many fascinating things in the process of writing my book. I am anxious to share my knowledge with classes of students who will read my book, with book clubs and with any interested readers.
All the posts about Lost on the Prairie can be read here.
Check out my Lost on the Prairie website.