Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Challenges of Historical Fiction

Grace Aitken MacKinnon
A major problem with writing my novel for this series, was my character, Grace MacKinnon’s escape from her oppressive family to Canada How do I get her there? 

In the early 20th century the larger, steam turbine driven vessels sailed for Halifax Nova Scotia, which is  155 miles [250 Km] from Prince Edward Island, over half of which is a landmass, with another stretch of water in between.

With some digging, I found a list of ships that called in at Charlottetown, but few, if any were passengers vessels coming direct from England. There was, however – and in fact still is, a regular ferry service from the mainland which took in all the major cities along the St Lawrence River and called in at Prince Edward Island.

What I had more difficulty discovering is how a young woman with only a basic knowledge of this far off country and its complicated geography would have even heard of Prince Edward Island, let alone aim to go there. It's hardly a direct route and maybe not one many people would think of when planning their emigration to Canada.

Because I had chosen a real steamship, one which needed to be equipped with wireless telegraphy, I wanted to be accurate, so I had to work out how Grace would cross that extra distance – and why would a young woman starting a new life  in a foreign country choose one place over another?

I went back to my historical research, and found an actual event which provides Grace with a means and opportunity to change her plans. I hope readers of this blog are intrigued enough to want to know what brings Grace to her Island home, the famous island character she befriends there and the life she carves for herself in Envy The Wind.


  1. I know I'll be buying a copy. Can't wait to read the book.

  2. Thanks Diane - it's a very different environment for me writing wise, but exciting