I’m working on my third work of historical fiction. It’s set in WWI Hoboken, NJ. If you are not from the NYC area, you probably never heard of Hoboken.
Hoboken was an island when Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson river. They filled in the island and it has been a one square-mile town for a while now. I lived there when I was a kid but moved away at 13 years of age.
If you grew up in Hoboken, you’ve lived a special life. Everything you could want was within the square mile, elegant ladies’ shops on Washington Street, Jewelers, Hardware, supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and a large WT Grant Store. There were also streets with cheap discount houses like Mikey Finns.
Every class of meat and fish and staple could be bought there and many Italian and Germany specialties were served in the restaurants. They even had catering venues, factories for people to work in, an engineering school as fine as M.I.T.
Everyone knew everyone on your street and many of the streets surrounding you. Everyone was friendly.
You would have never guessed that the Italians, Germans and Irish were at war with one another at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Ideas for writing historical fiction come from nowhere and everywhere. An exhibit in the Hoboken Historical Museum clarified many things for me, like why my grandfather was jailed during WWI and deported to Italy. It also gave me the impetus to tackle my new project, Bavarian Blue. It really helps having grown up in the place you are writing about. You feel totally connected to your story.
Look around writers, you may be sitting on a gold mine of ideas and not even realize it.