Amy Tector and Alexa Bigwarfe discuss using archives for both research and setting in your novels. Amy is the author of THE HONEYBEE EMERALDS, a book club fiction set in Paris and THE FOULEST THINGS, a murder mystery set in Ottawa.

If you're feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the lack of historical accuracy and engaging details in your writing, despite your best efforts to research, then you need to try using archives. Throughout the episode, Amy highlights how they can contribute to the authenticity and richness of a narrative, offering unique historical details and unexpected stories. She encourages writers not to shy away from archives and explores the accessibility of these valuable resources.

Archives give you the unfiltered life, the unexpected things that were never created with a purpose, making them a great resource for writers. – Amy Tector

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The indispensable contribution of archives in supplementing research and crafting insightful write-ups.
  • How to exploit them for polished research work essential in writing.
  • Amy Tector's riveting encounter with using primary sources from archives to fuel her literary creations.
  • Canada's National Archives Library and Archives Canada collection of historical records and documents.
  • Why you should explore the archive department in your local area or the archives related to your specific writing interests to uncover hidden stories and insights.
  • Consider incorporating archival research into your own writing process to bring a unique perspective and depth to your stories.
  • The importance of encouraging people to support indie authors by buying their books and spreading the word!
  • Amy Tector's debut novel, The Honeybee Emeralds, available now.


Uncovering the Role of Archives

Archives act as a treasure trove of history, housing original, unpublished materials. They're akin to libraries but hold a distinct, more candid take on past events, people and societies. Understanding and utilizing these distinct resources can inject an authentic flavor into writing, enhancing its immersive quality. The digitization of certain resources has eased access, though a significant portion still requires in-person visits. Seizing the potential of these unique records can deliver a riveting experience, giving writers the extraordinary opportunity to touch and connect with materials once held by historical figures.

Key Takeaways

  • Archives magnify the value of history and enhance a writer’s perspective.
  • Learn essential strategies for leveraging archived materials to construct a well-researched and informed narrative.
  • Walk alongside Amy Tector as she unfolds her adventure of incorporating archives in her masterpiece mystery novels.
  • Get acquainted with the open-access nature of your local archive department and the support extended by reference archivists.

Memorable Moments:

00:07:38 – Using Archives for Research,
Before visiting an archive, it's essential to have a good understanding of your research topic. Primary materials are unique, so knowing where to find them requires prior knowledge. Many archive departments still require in-person visits, offering the experience of physically touching historical documents.

00:11:21 – Amy Tector's Journey with Archives,
Amy's interest in writing and history led her to a career in archiving. She worked as a reference archivist, answering research questions and discovering countless story ideas. Her novels, including “The Dominion Archives Mysteries,” are heavily influenced by her experiences and fascination.

00:16:05 – Using Archives for Storytelling,
Amy Tector discusses their value in storytelling, particularly for authors writing historical fiction or stories with a historical element. While they can be intimidating, there are reference archivists available to help researchers navigate and access the information they need.

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