I’m starting a new YA fiction writing project that begins in the fall of 1964.
(I started writing this project two days before I saw the film LINCOLN, which begins at the start of 1865. It is very interesting how many things had changed in 100 years, and how many had not.)
The protagonist of my writing project is one of the four women protagonists from my 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist MRS. LIEUTENANT. In 1964 she is a sophomore in high school at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
Even though I was a junior in high school that year (in Elgin, Illinois) I cannot remember the timing of certain events. That’s where Wikipedia comes in so handy!
I wanted the protagonist Donna Garcia to have pictures of The Beatles on her bedroom walls. Now I remember going to the drive-in theater with my girlfriends in high school to see a Beatles movie. But I can’t remember what year.
I needed to know whether The Beatles were popular in the U.S. by 1964, and according to Wikipedia they were. (Yes, I do know that Wikipedia is not infallible.)
I knew that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. But was it passed before the fall of that year? Yes, it was:
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (“public accommodations”).
I also wanted to know had the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution been passed before the fall of 1964? Yes, it had too:
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (officially, the Southeast Asia Resolution, Public Law 88-408) was a joint resolution that the United States Congress passed on August 7, 1964, in response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.
It is of historical significance because it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of “conventional” military force in Southeast Asia. Specifically, the resolution authorized the President to do whatever necessary in order to assist “any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty.” This included involving armed forces.
Then there are the changes in military life that I have to take into account:
When I was a Mrs. Lieutenant from May 1970 to May 1972, wives did not stay on post if their husbands had an “unaccompanied tour” to Vietnam. Nowadays apparently wives do stay on post.
I wanted to include an official “notification of death” scene on post. But in 1964 it could not be the wife being notified on post. Solution? The parents of an unmarried 18-year-old son killed in Vietnam who live on post because the father is in the military.
While there are challenges of getting history correct (or as correct as possible) in fiction writing, I welcome these challenges. Part of the reason I’m writing about this period is to help preserve this slice of U.S. Army social history.
And for the music popular in a specific month in 1964?
I’m using THE ALL MUSIC BOOK OF HIT SINGLES that starts in 1954. It’s fun to revisit which of my favorite songs were popular when.
P.S. MRS. LIEUTENANT will be free on Kindle on March 6 and 7. Click here to read about the book now.
© 2013 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK and the romantic suspense spy story CIA FALL GUY.
She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com