Friday, February 26, 2016

Researching for Historical Fiction--Guest post by Emily Ann Putzke

Hey everyone! Today's post is a little different. :) I'm hosting author Emily Ann Putzke here as part of her blog tour for her now novel, Resist.  She was willing to do a post about researching historical fiction, and I'm so excited about that! (All pictures are Emily's.)

I’m Emily Ann Putzke, author of It Took a War, Ain’t We Got Fun, and my newest novel Resist which released this week. Jesseca asked me to share some advice on how to research a historical novel. I’m happy to oblige! Some people think of research as hours of poring over boring historical texts when, really, research should be hands on and engaging! There is a certain amount of reading you need to do, yes, but that’s not the entire process. Here are five things I did to research my book which takes place in Germany during WWII.


Having the opportunity to talk with people who were actually there was invaluable! I interviewed a waist gunner on a B-17, a soldier in U.S. 9th Army, a woman who grew up in Germany and whose brothers were in the Hitler Youth, a paratrooper from 101st Airborne Division, and my neighbor who served in the Engineers Battalion.

Obviously you can’t interview people from certain periods, such as the Civil War, so instead, you could go to historical talks, listen to podcasts, or see plays about the time period. Research historical societies in your area and see what events they’re planning. You might be pleasantly surprised!


There are tons of historical museums out there! One of my favorites is the Eldred WWII Museum. The director (who was the historical editor for Resist) took my family to the storage room where we got to touch the curtains that hung in Hitler’s office. Seeing relics and hearing engaging stories from the director makes the war more real. Get yourself to a museum and don’t forget a notebook!


Since I don’t speak German, I immersed myself in the language by listening to old folks songs my characters would have sung, and listening to their National Anthem. There are lots of old songs available on Youtube and iTunes.


There are so many good WWII films out there that really inspired me and got my creative juices flowing again such as Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, Unbroken, Uprising, Silent Night, The Pianist, Saving Private Ryan, Max Manus: Man of War … too many good ones to count! Watching historical films can help when you’re suffering from writer's block.


I really love WWII reenacting. In Resist, my main character served on the Eastern Front. Through reenacting, I can get an idea of the sounds and smells that would have encompassed him. It’s not everyday that German soldiers march past you. My main character is a medic in the Wehrmacht, so seeing and interacting with reenactors portraying the German army is a unique experience that is really beneficial for a WWII writer! Many time periods are now being reenacted, from the Medieval era to the Vietnam War. Living history, whether you’re a reenactor or spectator, will help you with your historical writing.

About the Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books on her blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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And. . .this is the cover of her new book that released this past week!

Thank you so much for the post, Emily! I know this was very helpful for me, and I'm sure it will be for others as well. It was so fun to see a glimpse into all the research that went into Resist!!

* I have personally not seen any of the movies she mentioned other then Silent Night, and my parents have seen Unbroken. I know they're both really good. :)


  1. If I ever write a historical novel, (which might happen soon) I'll use some of this advice! Thanks! :)

    ~Lydia~ <3

  2. Thank-you. This really helps me.

  3. Wow, lots of good research helps here! I really enjoyed reading this and I'm saving it for future reference. ;) Thanks so much, Jesseca and Emily!! :)