Friday, September 01, 2006


Yesterday I didn't really have time to post. This is because my schedule is absolutely CRAZY. I have two books due and they're both going to be late (not my fault but I won't get into that!).

The reason why my nonfiction books take longer is because I do REASEARCH! Lots of it. The story I'm working on now starts in 1903 and goes through the 60s. Think about all the changes in clothing styles, home decorating, transportation, etc. For example--Did you know that bathing suits until the 30s weren't at all what we use today? It was NOT acceptable for men to prance around in shorts--their upper bodies had to be covered! The shirts they wore were very much like skirts. Women wore what I'd describe as dresses to the beach. True, they had what they called "swimwear" but it certainly didn't look comfortable to swim in!

Here's a sample of the research images I get (and I use a ton of them!)

I often ask myself why I'm so interested in nonfiction since fiction is easier and a heck of a lot less time consuming! But the answer is always the same--it's a challenge and I learn something new!



Linda S. Wingerter said...

I wanted those as my teams derby uniforms, but I don't think the others would have gone for it.

Love them! I wish this was still the beach style.

Anna Alter said...

hey meghan-

I'm curious how you do your period research? I've been doing some of that lately and its pretty challenging! do you mostly go through the internet, or libraries?

Agyw said...

Meghan, this is something I've run up against (as well as being transportationally challenged). I'll share my resources (actually shared some of them in the last SCBWI Bulletin), and I'd LOVE to hear from you and Anna Alter.

Some things you can get from old fashion books, like Godies and Sears Catalogues. People collect them. I do use the web. It doesn't hurt to watch old movies, I find that also helps get one in the mood, there's a cadence to the speech and seeing people in their habitat, as opposed to acting, if it's set in the same time space (think of those wonderful Katherine Hepburn or Roz Russel with Cary Grant movies)!

My bit is on resort town (among people discovered musically there: Rudy Vallee, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, if you had a name you played at the beach! Joseph met Rose Kennedy at OOB and Lindbergh landed his transatlantic flight there). But it CHANGED from year to year, because of fire, and there weren't a ton of pictures in the State Archives at the state's Historical Society. The stuff was better at OOB's Historical Society, but those are great places to start. I used old newspapers, postcards and family photos especially for visual reference. In my case, because it's relevent, I'm also using Maine's African American Museum and the help of Annie's niece, who also heads up the Maine chapter of the NAACP. Tapes and personal knowledge helped-- I remember a later incarnation of OOB as well as having been close to the elderly, especially my Gram, so some of those old-fashioned sensibilities are kinda ingrained.

For me the hard part was taking what's old fashioned, being true to it as possible and reinventing it to hopefully tweak a today-kid's interest. Meghan, you certainly have a fresh style and take on things, so you're advantaged there.

The next project, I'm thinking a GN of Underground Railroad, some of that will be hands-on experience if I have anything to do with that!

Agyw said...

P.S. by web, not only Google search, but E-Bay has a lot of nostalgia for sale. YOu can take a look there!

Meghan McCarthy said...

I use the following--

- Columbia library (using my sister's password...shh!)
- ebay
- google image search
- period piece movies (use those to get colors of outfits because photos are in B&W!)
- Library of Congress
- a large collection of old magazines from the 20s - 60s (go to an antique store and you can buy them for 10-15 dollars a piece)
- clip art (they have ones for different years)

Honestly, I mostly use google for quick images (you just have to know how to get what you want). I don't know what I'd do without the internet! I'm lazy like that.

Linda, I'd like to see you and the others wearing those bathing outfits!