Thanks, Janet at Focused on Story for hosting me to during the blog tour for my newest prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest. It is Book 1 in the trilogy, Crossroads.
How Jacqui Murray Researched the Setting in the Prehistoric Novel, Survival of the Fittest
The most challenging part of writing this book--by far--was the setting--it takes place 850,000 years ago! When I wrote my two thrillers--To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days--these happened in present day, giving me three surefire ways to explore the location:
- Google it--plug wherever I needed into the search engine and sort through the hits. I knew enough about the setting (say, Chesapeake Bay) that I could sort reliable from opinion.
- Talk to fellow writers--there are many people willing to share their knowledge. A search for topical forums or blogs usually turned up someone with direct knowledge of the setting I struggled with (like where students at Columbia University liked to congregate).
- Use Google Earth and its Streetview functions--I've written about this in the past because it is an amazing way to explore settings, see what's on the street characters walk down, to explore obstacles characters face in a park they must run through, or to understand how far apart are places they must drive to. Searching on Google Earth and then dumping yourself into Street View gives you the most authentic experience available, almost like being there.
- Use Google Earth's Time Slider--by sliding the bar, you can reshape geography and geopolitics to be what it was long ago--up to a couple hundred years. If you're writing about the recent past, this is an amazing feature.
But none of these work for my newest prehistoric fiction because it takes place 850,000 years ago. Back then, mountains were plateaus, and savanna was jungle. Even the shorelines and fjords of continents were not like they are today. Since my characters walked from China to Spain along first the Indian Ocean and then the Mediterranean Sean, I went to great lengths to be accurate about what they faced.
Because I couldn't use any of the options above, I talked to experts in the field, researched best-guesses, and extrapolated from everything I could find. It took a long time which might explain why the book took over a decade to write.
How do you make sure that the locations your characters visit in your books are as accurately represented as possible? Please leave a comment below.
|Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray
Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga
Prehistoric fictionFive tribes. One leader.
A treacherous journey across three continents
in search of a new home.
Back of the Book: Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands using an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival.
She is joined by other homeless tribes--from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives.
As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn't want her People's land. He wants to destroy her.
She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an
Author Jacqui Murray
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Thanks, Jacqui. I'm intrigued by a story that takes place 850,000 years ago. What about you? Please leave your comment below. Thank you.