Friday, January 16, 2009

Interview with Suzanne Lieurance

Today it is my honor to interview children's writer and writing coach Suzanne Lieurance about her historical middle grade novel The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

1.) I’m really fascinated by historical novels. Can you talk a little about the research process for your new book The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?

Actually, a few years ago I wrote a nonfiction book for Enslow Publishers about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. So I had already done a lot of the research that was needed to write this historical novel based on that same incident. However, once I created a young girl and her family who lived in NYC during the early 1900s, I had to do more research to find out what they would have eaten, how they would have dressed and talked, and exactly where in the city they would probably have lived. And, I had to find out more about Jewish religious practices.
I also wanted to know more about Russian Jewish Immigrants, so I researched that. And, I have a dear friend who is Jewish, and her grandmother came from Russia in the early 1900s, so she was able to give me details that really helped bring my characters to life.

2.) Was 11 year old Galena, the heroine in the novel, based off a real person?

She wasn't based on any ONE real person. But, in the early 1900s there were many Russian Jewish immigrants who were young girls like Galena who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, so I used information about many of these REAL girls to create Galena and her family.

3.) Have you written any other historical works for children?

A few months ago I finished another historical novel for Enslow Publishers. This one is about a young Japanese-American boy and his family who are sent to one of the Japanese-American Internment Camps during World War II. I think that book is scheduled for release later this year. It was both fun and challenging to write. I found all sorts of information about the Internment Camps, but it was difficult to find specific information I needed so I could create details about the characters that would bring them to life.

4.) What advice do you have for writers out there who may be interested in writing historical fiction?

Try to locate as many primary sources as you can. If you enjoy research, you'll have fun combing through old letters, newspaper clippings, and diaries that you will find for the period you are writing about. To bring the past to life as vividly as possible, try to include plenty of sensory details in your work. Show us what the times looked like, sounded like, smelled like, etc. Also, check your facts very carefull, even though you're creating a fictional character. The places, events, and other people included in your story must be true to the time you writing about.

The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwait Fire is available at


deborah said...

Suzanne... I love doing research, you learn so much at the same time you're being creative. Sounds like a great book.

deborah ramos

Janet, said...

I love historical fiction. I am doing finishing touches to a MG historical fiction now called Lucy. It takes place during the early 1900s in rural Appalachia. Thanks for the interview.

Nancy Famolari said...

I love historical novels and this sounds like a good one. Your research sounded very interesting. I enjoyed the interview.


Laurie said...

I love reading historical fiction! I will be sure to check this one out.


Vivian Zabel said...

I wrote my first historical fiction in 2008. I was fortunate to have most of my research handed to me and a lot living with me. *laugh*

I need to find a way to get this book.