When girls were girls and men were men – those were the days! Or at least those were the days in the movies I grew up watching. During the hot afternoons in Phoenix, Mom would draw the living room drapes and turn on The Channel Five Movie Matinee which ran the old black and white movies from her teenage years, the 1940’s. They were reruns to my mom but delightful first runs for me. Between the old movies and my mom’s tales of growing up in the 1940’s, I fell totally in love with that decade. So romantic, so colorful.
My research started years ago, in the living room watching The Channel Five Movie Matinee. It was Hollywood’s version but movies do reflect the times.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tapped across the stage, her glittery dress flowed around her ankles, and he bent her backwards in a graceful maneuver that netted him a kiss. I sighed at the black and white images. The actor with the funny nose made cracks and the pretty redhead batted her eyelashes. I laughed at an old black and white Bob Hope and Lucille Ball movie on television while curled up with my little sister in a corner of the sofa.
Saturday morning, I’d carry my cup of hot cocoa and my white bread toast dripping with butter to the blanket spread in front of the television to watch an old movie starring Shirley Temple.
Movies were set on sound stages mostly and they didn’t worry about too much realism. My heart pattered over Gene Kelly dancing in the rain, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing around a perfect garden under perfectly spaced stars and Dorothy dancing through the Land of Oz.
The time period following World War II is the setting for Honey On White Bread. The two families, the Russells and the Flanagans are the people who move through the novel. Both families are poor but rich with love and family.
My heroine, Claire Flanagan, is caught up in that fantasy called Hollywood. She loves those old black and white movies on the silver screen as much as I did. Of course, for her they’re not old. In her eyes, her hero, Benjamin Russell, is as dashing as any movie star idol.
My mother provided firsthand accounts of the era. Listening became an important part of gathering facts – but I’d been doing that all my life. Her stories fascinated me. She was raised the daughter of a crop worker, poor and without a mother. Her accounts of hopping freight trains, going to Sunday school with cousins, victory gardens, rationing of sugar, D-Day and the way romance was conducted were an important part of the notes for my book.
,br> The balance of my research tied together my story components with all the little details that make a time period unique – the particular slang of the era, the dress styles, conveniences or lack of, geography of the settings, etc. My personal library has several books that speak to the era. Mom’s photo albums gave me a visual history. The dictionary of slang helped immensely. And of course there is Google!
Writing Honey On White Bread let me submerge myself into those magical, romantic movies I grew up watching; in a time that seems simpler by today’s standards. As a result of my starry-eyed fascination with that era, the book of my heart took form.
About the Author:
Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs occasionally on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
In this post WWII coming of age novel, Claire discovers the silver screen can’t compare with the fight she takes on for the leading role in her own life.