Historical fiction Killingly Research

What I’m doing these days

Today, at least, I’m writing about Boston in the 1890s through the eyes of a retired Congregationalist pastor who is about to have a nervous breakdown of sorts (or possibly a stroke, I haven’t decided yet). Here’s part of what he sees:

Court and Tremont Streets from Scollay Square

That print was produced only three years before this character visited Boston to investigate a report that a girl with a name similar to his missing daughter had appeared in the City Hospital. Pemberton Square, where the Boston police station was located in 1897, is close to Scollay Square — if I’m reading this map correctly, he would certainly have traveled down Court Street on his way to the station. He would have seen the recently constructed Ames Building; he might have passed Faneuil Hall.

In order to write this man, I’ve been reading things like the delightfully titled Congregationalism: what it is; whence it is; how it works; why it is better than any other form of church government; and its consequent demands. I’ve also been reading for fun. It’s bizarre and wonderful to have a stretch of time to myself without the immediate pressure of an academic deadline, even a distant one. I am preparing for my dissertation defense, and will be dipping back into that work for the next few weeks. But I’ve had time to browse the recently published books section at the UT library, the one with two-week checkouts. I can’t remember the last time I was able to do that and actually finish a book in time to return it. I’ve been reading short story collections, thinking about teaching next fall.

I’ve also been playing with TimeGlider, a tool for producing timelines — I need it to keep straight all the details from the newspaper clippings about the events in Killingly! So far, it’s working pretty well. Assuming Killingly appears in print someday, I’ll probably make the timeline public and link it here. Though I may take out some of my notes to myself — you know, the ones that say FIX THIS, WTF, etc. Writing a multi-POV, not-strictly-chronological novel based on a complex set of messily-reported real-life events is a sticky business.

4 Comments

  1. Oh, I think I recommended TimeGlider, didn’t I? In any case, it’s an amazing utility, and I’m glad you’re finding it useful!

    (On a related note, there’s a program called Aeon Timeline for Macs only that’s comparable to TimeGlider. It’s unique because it allows you to create your own fantasy calendars, but since you’re using the “real” calendar, TimeGlider’s probably a better — and safer — bet. Aeon Timeline is in beta only, and it’s not quite as polished as it could be. But it’s something to keep an eye on, in any case.)

    Good luck!

  2. Matt, yes — thank you! It’s been really helpful. I checked out Aeon Timeline too, but yeah, the fact that I’m using the real calendar has made TimeGlider easier for this project.

  3. Hi Professor Beutner,

    I will be one of your intro to fiction and poetry students in the fall at Wooster. I am wondering if you have come up with a list of the texts we will be looking at yet and would be willing to share? I am planning to do a creative (poetry) independent study as a senior, so this class is of particular interest to me.

    Many thanks and look forward to meeting you in the fall.

    Libby

  4. Libby,

    Hi! Thanks for getting in touch. I don’t have the reading list for that class finalized yet, but I’ll be happy to share it when I do. You’re welcome to email me at katharinebeutner at gmail dot com and we can talk more about this soon.

    Looking forward to meeting you, too–

    KB

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