Ron Singerton, author of A Cherry Blossom in Winter, a novel of the Russo-Japaense War has a terrific interview over at Feathered Quill -- as always the questions are personal and Singerton's replies quite interesting.
FQ: Even if it was not known from your biography, readers can tell immediately that historical research is a slight obsession of yours. Where and when did that love come into play? In addition, are you a traveler at heart, or do these ideas, these certain moments in history, just come upon you out of the blue and make you want to research and then write about them?
SINGERTON: Answer: I was a history major at Cal State University Long Beach many years ago but even as a youth as far back as elementary school I steeped myself in reading about ancient adventures and such epic writing such as Winston Churchill’s “The Gathering Storm” and “Triumph and Tragedy.”
Travel to foreign lands broadens one’s perspective and appreciation of other cultures, so I was able to develop some understanding of Japan, which became so important in writing Cherry Blossom when I was stationed there with the U.S. Army in the late 1960’s. Since that time, I have visited St. Petersburg, Russia (also vitally important to the novel) as well as the U.K., the Baltics and Eastern Europe.
When searching for a time period to write about, whether it’s the ancient world or a period closer to our own time, I look for settings and events of unique and critical importance rarely traveled in historical fiction. Then my fictional characters are allowed to play out their roles as the historical elements churn about them adding elemental crisis to their lives.