"Trappers" by Alfred Jacob Miller, 1843
I have been deep into the writing of my latest work, a historical fiction novel about the life and Times of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (1805-1866). Some of my previous blogs have addressed the travel and research that I was doing over the past two years, but now the writing is underway and good progress is being made.
I see an emerging theme of research and writing in my work. Each of the three Terra Tempo books took about a year to research and a year and half to write and produce. I am not sure how long the writing of my current project will take, but I started in January and am now about halfway through. I anticipate having the first draft done by the end of June, if I can keep to my current schedule.
During the course of my work on the current book I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 1989 book, "The General in His Labyrinth", a fictionalized account of the last days of Simon Bolivar. I was delighted to read about the amount of time that Marquez put into researching the life of Bolivar before he began writing.
My character of choice holds nowhere near the national importance to the American consciousness as Simon Bolivar does to the people of South America, however I do believe that his life and times touch upon so much that American's do not know about but are still affected by, that it is safe to say that Charbonneau still affects the collective unconscious of the American people. For this reason I have been very diligent in learning as much as possible about not only the man in question, but about his vast web of relationships with people and places that better known.
Marquez's treatment of Bolivar's end days is informative, entertaining, and respectful. These are broad goals I hope to attain in my covering of Charbonneau's life and times. Marquez's interviews about "The General" have also been very inspirational to me, as Marquez was not a writer of Historical Fiction before attempting that book. I identified with the authors struggles and triumphs in sifting through the mountains of materials available about his subject. While there are only a few books about Charbonneau himself, there is a vast field of information about the people and places involved in the major phases of the man's life. St Louis in formative years of 1811-1822, the courts of Europe during the tumultuous 1820's, the Rocky Mountains during the fur trade of 1830-1838, the Great Plains and the forts of commerce from 1838-1846, The war against Mexico, the California Goldrush, California during the Civil War, and the departing for Montana when the war was through are all parts of the greater story that is Jean Baptiste Charbonneau's life.
With the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez last week I was saddened to hear the news, but glad that I had read his work. I know that he inspired many writers in many lands and I'd like to thank his memory for having written "The General in His Labyrinth." His style of Magical Realism and his tactful approach to Historical Fiction are guiding lights to me while I attempt my first novel since before I started all the "Terra Tempo" work. May his memory live long!