Last summer, one of my favorite authors, JoJo Moyes, was working on the novel, The Girl You Left Behind. The book is about a dangerous and complicated attraction between a French woman and a German Kommandant during World War I coupled with a modern-day story of a young woman struggling to get over the death of her famed architect husband. Moyes “manages to bring in the issues of war reparations, enemy lines, and class differences, all in one joyful human package.”
Normally, Moyes enjoys writing romance novels that many may find typical of the genre. However, this time around, she sought to conquer new territory and incorporate historical tensions into her work. One of the novel’s most noted characteristics is how it puts characters from drastically different worlds next to each other. I commend this branching out decision of Moyes. I too have never written about my current proposal topic – something that can be intimidating at first.
One of the biggest challenges Moyes faced while writing The Girl You Left Behind was gathering information from the era since there are very few survivors today with whom she could speak with. Additionally, she found that a lot of information about life in France under the occupation was destroyed due to the expansive nature of bombings in World War I. Because of this, Moyes relied heavily on photo and journal archives she found on the Internet.
One of the most interesting/useful parts of the interview for me was when Moyes commented on how she wasn’t sure if she could bring anything fresh to books already published on the World War I topic. Moyes watched documentaries and discovered that she hadn’t realized how extensive the German occupation of France was. Drawing from this discovery, she began writing. The idea of “freshness” has really been something I have been struggling with regarding my own project. I want to make sure that I am not simply regurgitating past research on social media impacting feelings of loneliness.
Anyone have any tips on how to ensure your project is taking on a unique perspective?