So one of the big things we did this weekend was to take a day to see a friend who lives in Kingston, Ontario -- a small, old city (by North American standards) that was once our capital. She toured us around town and showed us all the high points, and we had a great day culminating in a visit to Fort Henry. An historical cite of an old British military establishment, it's everything you'd expect from a site: employees walking around in period costume, low ceilings ("man people were short back then") and the entire day finishing with a "sun set" ceremony in which blanks are shot out of massively old weaponry and everything is very ra-ra British Empire with no hint to the negative aspects of colonialism (lines in the narration such as "the British lion roared across the globe" did make me cringe somewhat).
But there was one thing that did inspire me. In one of the rooms, there was some signage describing the role of women in the fort. The basic gist was that among the lower ranks, six wives were allowed to accompany their husbands. The wives were to subsist on half rations, and any children on quarter rations. But they could make some money by darning socks and sewing and mending shirts. And these sewing circles would be organized by the officers' wives. There weren't many officers at the fort at any one time, and it seems like they had no limit on how many of their wives were allowed to be at the fort.
So anyways, it occurs to me that there is tons of historical fiction written about Europe. Just massive amounts. But very little in the public eye about anywhere else, including Upper Canada. And even more so about early Canadian women's history. It occurred to me that I would love to write a novel written from the perspective of a woman staying at Fort Henry, and that it would be a way to write a story about many of my own experiences that I feel I can't write about in any sort of Roman à clef.
I'm very excited about this idea. I don't have even a working title, and I only have a vague idea of how it would be written (maybe through letters home?) or the plot or anything. But I do have until November to figure out a thing or two -- including the massive amounts of research that I have to put into it. However, I do love a new idea for a novel. It is at this stage of the creative process, before anything is set in stone, that I love the most! So many possibilities! :)