When writing Historical Fiction hurts

by | Apr 16, 2015 | Trail of Fears

cherokee-indianI didn’t expect it to be so hard. That’s what I said to my husband just moments ago. I’m deep into my newest work “Trail of Fears”. Which, for those of you who haven’t been following my blog, it is a Historical Fiction set around the events of the Trail of Tears. And I warn you, I’m going to share more about this novel than I probably should. But here goes…

I am following the plight of the Cherokee in this novel. And I have written a good portion of the novel following the events from the passing of the Indian Removal Act to the actual forcible removal of the Cherokee (which happens eight years later). And I am struggling to write the events that followed. The Native Americans were forced from their homes at gunpoint, had to watch as their homes were plundered and burned to the ground, moved into concentration camps before they were sent on an approximately 1,000 mile journey that would be known as the Trail of Tears. And on this journey, as many of you know, thousands died. They died from exposure to the winter weather (as they were not afforded proper supplies), they became sick, some were murdered along the way…

I’m finding it all incredibly difficult to write. It just hurts my heart that these things happened. How? How am I to do something like this justice?

But I have a story to tell. I was inspired to tell this story by my own exposure to these facts and to my being on and around the place where the trail came through not far from my home. I want people to know what happened. I mean, it happened so long ago, but it is a piece of our history. It’s practically in my backyard. And if we ignore history because it’s uncomfortable for us or we gloss over the atrocities that happened because they’re inconvenient for us…what does that say about who we are? At any rate, that’s for you to decide.

As for me, I’ll plunge into this headfirst, knowing that this story must be told.

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Sara R. Turnquist