I have always been fascinated by African Colonial history. My interest was piqued at a young age by my Dad, who had an intense interest in the subject as well. There is a bookcase in my parents home that is almost nothing but books on the subject, a number of which I have read and enjoyed. Growing up one of my favorite movies was Zulu, a dramatic film staring a young Michael Caine, and telling the events of the battle of Rorke’s Drift (which I partly attribute to my unending love of sieges).
As I have grown older, I have come to realize the horrific effect colonial life had on Africa, and the problems with glorification of that era. It is something I myself have struggled with. The men of Rorke’s Drift were my heroes growing up. I was an adult though before I understood that the war in which they fought was under false pretenses, and instigated by the British in order to take control of the Zulu lands.
My steampunk world features an area that is intentionally similar to Colonial South Africa, and I have to date written a pair of stories set there (Up River, and Radavan Station), featuring a drunken mage named Roymond. I also have a character loosely based on the concept of a “Great White Hunter,” Colonel Gurthwait. As I write these stories though, I have tried to be aware of the issues of colonization, and to not senselessly glorify it. I hope I have done at least a passable job.
My next large project is going to be a 25 thousand word novella set in this area, staring both Gurthwait and Roymond, in a loose retelling of a pivotal event from African Colonial history. As I write it, I hope to try to address some of these issues, showing the darker side of colonization. We will see how I do!
What is an area of history that has influenced your writing? Or that you find interesting that not many people might?