Having the details right in a historical fiction is not just about making sure your character doesn’t answer a telephone if your book takes place in the 19th century. It’s about making sure that they kitchen is right, the food that they ate was accurate, even the clothes that they wear have to be on par with the time period and country. There is nothing more of a turn off than reading book that gets the facts blatantly wrong.
I have been openly critical of books that get it wrong so now when it comes to my own book, I have to get it right. This week my main research topic has been two fold 19th century ships of South America (because you know how thrilling that is) and the history of Brazil which I have to say is far more fascinating than the naval ships.
I love all things nautical and appreciate the beauty of an old school naval ship but once you get into the down and dirty of the day to day operations of these ships my eyes start to gloss over. However, I struggled through to learn my basics and really to find that there weren’t a whole lot of major technological breakthroughs in naval ships really until after the steam engine was built which is after my time period.
The history of Brazil is way more fascinating though. All of the other South American countries had to really fight to break away from Spain but Brazil just kind of drifted away from Portugal. The Portuguese monarchy flees to Brazil to escape Napoleon’s army. The royal family stays in Brazil until 1821. An uprising in Brazil sends the King home leaving his 22 yr old son Dom Pedro as regent.
Dom Pedro basically sets up his own court and declares independence from Portugal. Things eventually get tricky for Dom Pedro towards the end of his reign in 1831. He looses an area to the south in a war with Argentina which goes on to become Uruguay and his brother attempts to take the throne back in Portugal. Wanting to have his cake and eat it too, Dom Pedro abdicated the Brazilian throne and goes back to Portugal to defend his claim to the Portuguese throne. This leaves his 5 year old son in charge.
The reign of Dom Pedro II is far more interesting to me. He takes the throne in 1831 and in 1835 the revolution of Rio Grande Do Sol (also fantastically known as the Ragamuffin War) breaks out. This is the guy that is ruling when my story takes place.
Researching is like a never ending scavenger hunt. Why was it called the Ragamuffin War? The regency was a troubled time for Brazil my next question is why? Who were these people that caused so many problems that ended up bringing my two main characters together? I may not include some of this information in my story directly but it’s important to have a well formed back story and to know what was going on in the world around Anita and Jose.