Researching a Historical Novel with Guest Jodie Wolfe

Research is always a fun part about writing a historical romance. At least it is for me. 🙂 Although I admit from time to time, I find myself straying on different bunny trails when researching. One subject often prompts me off on another search and I forget about actually writing the book for a while. During the process of creating Protecting Annie, I had a variety of topics to research.

My heroine, Annie McPherson has a lot of book knowledge, but not too much common sense or experience. Whenever she’s thrown into an unfamiliar situation, her first inclination is to consult her trusty guidebook for information. Annie is a planner, so she thoroughly immersed herself with vast research before traveling from the east to Kansas. When she comes across an animal in the alley of the western town she moved to, she’s convinced it’s a wolf. After all, it looks like the ones in her guidebook.

I knew this would be the opening scene for the book, so I started researching various dogs that happen to look like a wolf and would be feasible to have in a Midwest town. I came across the Native American Indian dog. I won’t tell you more, so I don’t ruin the opening scene for you. 🙂

Later in the book, Annie finds and picks some beautiful plants. Again, she consults her guidebook but can’t find an entry on the mysterious plant. She starts to have a reaction to one of them. The hero, Joshua Walker, happens upon her and tells her it’s poison hemlock.

Almost every summer growing up, I had issues with poison ivy however I didn’t know much about poison hemlock and whether it is found in Kansas. Like Annie, I had to do some research. Turns out the plant is in Kansas, and I also learned it’s highly poisonous and contact with the skin can cause nausea and blurred vision. Well, this made for a fun scene…at least to read. 🙂 It wasn’t so much fun for Annie.

My hero is a town sheriff. I have scene where he is sorting through wanted posters. I had some knowledge of them but needed to know if it was feasible to have one be hand-drawn. Off I went researching again. Turns out, they did often have posters that were drawn by hand.

One thing I didn’t research, but I had my heroine try to learn about was the care of a kitten. Annie tries to find a book at the local stores but to no avail. In fact, the townspeople have a hard time trying to figure out why she would want to keep a cat indoors.

I love researching as I write a story. Not only do I learn things, I also am able to share some of those items with my readers. Hopefully they enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂

How about you, what are some of your favorite things to learn about when you’re reading a historical novel? Leave a comment for your chance to win a CD with 12 historical romance novels on it. (US only)


After twenty years of living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem, she no longer requires his protecting so he’s unsure of his next step.

Annie McPherson needs a change after the death of her father. She accepts a position as schoolmarm, hoping her past won’t catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky sheriff who continues to question her ability to adjust to life in the west and creates confrontations at every turn.

When the irritating schoolteacher’s past and present collide, dragging him into the turmoil, Josh has to decide who he’s willing to defend.

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Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Faith, Hope & Love Christian Writers, and COMPEL Training. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at