Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How a Dutch Author Writes American Civil War Stories by Marian Baay

When I discovered that Marian Baay had a story about the Civil War published, I was curious. How did someone who lives in the Netherlands write about an American war that took place 150 years ago? -- Sandy

Marian: Early 2013, author Murray Pura asked me to join his new Civil War series. I seriously doubted his wisdom in asking me – a Dutchie who hardly knows anything about the American Civil War – to write a story about this very same war. So, I declined.
Until then, I simply thought it was impossible to write about a place I had never visited.

However, the idea to write did not leave my mind. Several months later, I finally decided to give it a try. And so it happened that my research began about a place I had never visited and about a war I hardly knew anything about. A story idea had begun to form in my mind, and now I only needed to find the right city or town in the United States where the story was going to take place. After googling on ‘Dutch in the Civil War’ I was led to Michigan and I started reading everything I could find online about this state. So, for my debut story, Heaven Is Not Far, the internet was the main source of my research.

For my second story, The Officer’s Daughter, I downloaded several free Kindle books. I found most info about the war background that I needed in Union General Sherman’s memoir. Although Sherman was not in Nashville during the battle of Nashville, he did write about his correspondence with General Thomas who was in command of the Union army in the city. An eyewitness account of someone who lived in the hills around Nashville gave me the info I needed about the weather and how the area looked back then.

U.S. Army veterans have helped me understand the military ranks and terms and other info about the army I didn’t know.

During my research, I also use Google Earth and Street View Maps to visit the places I am writing about. Of course, everything looks different 150 years later, but it gives me a good idea of hills and woods and streams in the area.

It was—and still is—lots of fun to write about this period in the American history. However, it can be hard to read about all the horrible things that happened back then. Therefore, I try to add a touch of romance and hope to my stories. Even during the time that the states were at war, people did fall in love and hoped for a better future with their loved ones.

Have you ever tackled writing a story (historical or contemporary) set in a foreign country? What did you find most difficult? 


The Captain’s Wife by Marian Baay

After being rescued from Confederate captivity, Olivia Burns has married her handsome rescuer—Union Captain Andrew Burns. A few days after their marriage, Andrew takes off to fight in the battle of Nashville and Olivia stays behind, waiting on word from her husband about where they will meet again.
When Andrew sends word that he hopes to meet her in Eastport, Mississippi, she travels down south. Their reunion is sweet and they spend a wonderful night together in a barn, but in the early morning of New Year’s Eve, they are abruptly disturbed by sounds of battle. Andrew must go back to the men of his company and leaves an anxious Olivia alone. Terrified to get captured again, she must learn to deal with her fear and emotions. When someone enters the barn where she is hiding, will her greatest nightmare come true?

You can find The Captain’s Wife and Marian’s previous stories at her Amazon author page:

Marian Baay lives in the Netherlands, together with her husband and dog, near the North Sea. She enjoys reading a good book, hiking in the woods, dunes, or nature reserves. As a lover of animals, she has always had various pets to brighten her world. In the outdoors, her imagination runs wild and seeds for stories are planted there.

Marian likes to read and write in various genres, but romance is an important ingredient in her stories. The love between a man and woman is such a wonderful gift from God that she likes to add a touch of that heavenly delight into all her stories.

Visit Marian’s blog to learn more about her:


  1. I'm writing one now -- a novella, not a series, so setting is important, but not as much so as for The Captain's Wife. I've been using Google Earth and YouTube for landscape and dialect, but it's hard to imagine the smells at times. LOL!

    It must have been so difficult to imagine the historical aspects, too. It's not like you can go visit mid-19 century Tennessee. My hat's off to you!

    1. LOL Indeed, it's hard to imagine the smells back then. In this case the reader and writer have one thing in common--they both didn't live 150 years ago, so it's all about imagination. :-)

      All the best with your novella, Angie!

  2. I'm SUPER impressed, Marian. I'm working on a series set in TX, and have made two visits since starting the series, as well as scouring the internet, but I'm still nervous about those tiny details that a reader might find annoying if wrong. Sounds like you covered all your bases. Congratulations! :)

    1. Thanks, Dora! I know that feeling you're talking about. I was pretty sure negative reviews would start rolling in for my first story, Heaven Is Not Far. I was so nervous about that - especially when some 'big' authors were reading my story.
      But it was all good. Thank the Lord. :-)

    2. Just remember to write "fixin' to" in every other sentence, Dora, and you'll be fine. :)

  3. I read your amazing story and was surprised to learn some things I didn't even know about the Civil War! Your research and knowledge of that era was impressive indeed -- especially for a Dutchie! ;) It sounds a lot like studying and gathering research for a term paper in school, so I think I'll pass on writing a book. :) Ugh -- how I disliked those essays and term papers! lol

    1. Thank you, Diana! Research for a book is different from research for a boring term paper in school. It's much more fun to research for the story that you are creating.
      In school I had to - now I want to. That's the difference. :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!