Friday, October 21, 2011

Bringing the 1920s to life

As I was getting ready to start writing in earnest, I started doing some research on the 1920s.  I had a feel for how I wanted to weave the danger and seduction of vampires into the glitz and glamor of the 1920s, but I wanted to make sure I was getting the details right, too.

To that end, I read — a lot.  Stephen King has said that to be a writer, you must be a reader, and I am a voracious one.  I read novels about the 1920s, and I read nonfiction books.  I read online, and I read offline.

Here are a few of the sources I found to be the most helpful.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

According to the nonfiction books I read, the Fitzgeralds had as much a hand in creating the 1920s and the flapper image as these things had in creating them.  The Great Gatsby is his best known work, but he has several other novels and many short stories about the 1920s.  Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Fitzgerald's other heroes and heroines perfectly capture the careless opulence that we think of when we envision the era.

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Anything Goes by Lucy Moore

This is an excellent, well-researched nonfiction book that will give you an overview of what the 1920s were like.  Moore talks about everything from the Fitzgeralds to the music of the era.  She also discusses the economy and the rise of organized crime.  A great book if you genuinely want to know more about this era!

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Flapper by Joshua Zeitz

Whereas Anything Goes gives you a picture of the 1920s as a whole, Flapper focuses on the rise and fall of the flapper icon during the 1920s.  In addition to discussing the impact that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had, the book talks about the popular actresses of the era — Connie Moore, Clara Bow, and Louise Brooks — and the impact each one had on the ideal of the flapper.  A fantastic book for anyone who wants to know more about this carefree icon of early 20th century womanhood!

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Vixen and Ingenue by Jillian Larkin

These aren't nonfiction books, but novels about the 1920s.  I've read both, and I think they are fantastic representations of life for young women in Chicago and New York during the 1920s.  Although my vampire world is quite different than Larkin's authentic 1920s world, these books provided a lot of inspiration when I was trying to get into the Roaring Twenties mood!

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Bright Young Things and Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

You might recognize Anna Godbersen's name from her Luxe Series, YA novels about the high class world of turn of the century New York.  Although I haven't yet read her newest book, Beautiful Days, I loved Bright Young Things when I read it after it first came out.  Godbersen also has done a fabulous job of recreating the Roaring Twenties in her novels.


The Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang

This is a fantastic website I found with an alphabetical list of 1920s slang.  I am using some period slang in my novels, so I've found this guide absolutely invaluable!

I'm sure I'll have more to add eventually, as I'm still constantly researching the 1920s, even though I've already started planning and writing my novel.  But so far, these are some of my favorite sources of information and inspiration!

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