Monday, May 14, 2012 and Historical Research

I'm a bit of a genealogy geek (as I'm sure you figured out, considering Oleanna was inspired by my own ancestors), so has been a godsend. So many amazing bits of data, all in one place! And I'm finding that digging into those databases (for a monthly fee, of course...) has been very enlightening not only for me personally, but as an historical novelist. 

In trying to get to the bottom of just who my Danish great-great grandparents are, I'm seeing some interesting patterns in immigration in the late 1880s. In trying to find my husband's grandfather, I'm seeing settlement patterns in the Santa Clara Valley in the early 20th century. And of course, the census records (from around the world) are fantastic resources for period- and location-appropriate character names.

They're adding more databases all the time, and this weekend I happened on something interesting: Norwegian death and burial indices. And I found Elisabeth and Oleanna. They were old when my mom visited Norway in the 1960s...but I never knew how long-lived they were. Elisabeth and Oleanna died, in Jølster, in 1983 and 1986 at the grand old ages of 94 and 92. Lord, I was a teenager then. And though they were names of legend and great fondness in our house, I never thought to ask more about them when I still had my mom. 

Which I suppose is a good thing, because the mystery surrounding them is part of what prompted Oleanna in the first place.

In somewhat related news, Catherine Schaff-Stump, AKA Writer Tamago, has very generously let me blather on about writing process over at her blog. And she has some lovely things to say about Oleanna, which was a great way to start my week!

And of course, don't forget that if you review Oleanna by 11:59 p.m. PDT on May 16, and email a link to the review to oleannanovel at, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a really awesome Norwegian prize package, in honor of Syttende mai - 17th May, AKA Norwegian Constitution Day!


  1. I'm fascinated by my ancestry too. It's so interesting to know about where you come from and what the people in your family did in their lives. I've never delved into but I'm deeply intrigued!

  2. It's a little spendy ($35/mo or something?), but there's so much information there, it's worth it for me. And you can get a month to month subscription so it's easy to cancel if you need to.

    Every line I follow back just suggests so many stories! It can be terribly distracting, actually, from a writing POV. I need to stay focused on my WIP!

  3. Great interview! And hurray for that *%$#@* first draft... :)))