The Internet is incredibly helpful when researching and writing historical novels. We have access to everything under the sun, and then some with a click of the mouse. I remember many times when I finished writing a chapter of A Decent Woman and went back to fill in with details I’d gleaned from my Internet research. Now, not everything we read on the Internet is accurate; in fact, I found conflicting items on historical timelines, for example. So it behooves us to double check with secondary sources for accuracy.
Along with the Internet, we have our local library, museum archives, curated collections, vintage photographs, postcards, and letters, old films and maps, and of course, there is a vast collection at our disposal of non-fiction and fiction books written on most of our topic of choice.
Last month, I discovered something interesting while researching for my work in progress, The Island of Goats. I’d like to share that with you.
The Island of Goats, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, Spain, and France, begins in a leprosarium on a small islet off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico called Isla de Cabras. Through my research, I found photographs of the island, but nothing in great detail until I stumbled upon a YouTube video taken by a man with a drone camera. I was immediately intrigued. In the video, the camera hovers over the ruins of the leprosarium, flies along the entire rocky and barren coastline, and finally enters a few dilapidated stone buildings of the leper colony. My jaw dropped at the amazing images the drone was able to capture—a fascinating bird’s eye view! I watched it several times and was able to get closer looks by starting and stopping the video.
Now, I can describe the outside of the buildings in greater detail and accuracy, and with new eyes, describe what views the sufferers on Isla de Cabras would have looked out upon from inside the buildings. The views are amazing, and I’m one happy camper…er, writer.
About Eleanor Parker Sapia
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.
A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.
A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M