Friday, April 18, 2008

Our Last Day With M.P. Barker...

As her launch week for A Difficult Boy comes to an close, we're getting ready to bid a fond farewell to M.P. Barker. She'll still be in class with us. Natch. She'll just be moving over to make way for our next debut author launch.

Before leaving, M.P.'d like to talk to us about setting. And who are we to argue with a published author?! Take it away, Classmate!

Since my book is set in an imaginary town, the best I can do is give you a tour of a similar imaginary town—Old Sturbridge Village, where I worked as a costumed interpreter during the 1980s and 1990s. (For those of you non-New Englanders, Old Sturbridge Village is a re-created early 19th-century (circa 1830-1840) New England village.) That was a real stroll down memory lane. I had to dig through my attic to find photos of my days at OSV. Oh, my!



Actually, I didn't start out working in costume at OSV. I began working here.

Yes, my first job at OSV was as a horticultural assistant working behind the scenes in the greenhouses and planting all the modern ornamental gardens at the entrances and around the visitor center, etc. I had one of the best bosses ever, got a great tan, and was probably in the best shape I’d ever been in by the end of the summer.




The next year, I went from wearing shorts and working in the flower gardens to wearing this.






And working in gardens...


If I thought I worked hard the summer before…well, there’s nothing to get you buff like digging, weeding, milking cows, making cheese, chopping kindling, hauling wood and water…



Not that I’m complaining. It wasn’t always down and dirty. I also got to...


Sing…




Dance…





And run around with men.


One of my co-workers used to say that even back then the guys with the wheels got all the women.



I got to play with my food…


Okay, I’m being facetious…but only a little. One of the perks was getting to eat all the food that we cooked, which included our own chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. Okay, maybe I could have done without making the head cheese…with a real head. It’s a seriously scary recipe that begins with: Boil one pig’s head until the eyes fall out… Better than cleaning sausage casings, though, I’ll tell you that. You haven’t lived until you’ve sloshed a couple miles of pig intestines through a pan of salt water.


My favorite time of year was the spring, with all the new baby animals. During my time there, I got to see two calves born, including this one. (He was given the not particularly period-appropriate name of Fred A. Steere…)


The weird thing is that I swore I’d never write historical fiction because after working at OSV I realized just how many details there were to get wrong—and how much work it is to get it right.

So what did I end up writing? Yeah, that’s right. And in spite of getting my manuscript reviewed by no fewer than five Village people (hey, we had the name before YMCA!), now I live in terror that my former co-workers will catch all the mistakes I missed…

M.P. Barker, thank you, thank you for spending your launch week with us!  We're so proud of you! And we wish you the absolute best.

Oh yeah, besides being a time traveler, M.P. is also a blog hopper. You can catch an interview with her today over at Nineteen Teen, a fantastically informative blog about being a teen in the nineteenth century.

Thanks again, M.P. You're a published author now! Go forth and prosper!

5 comments:

Barrie said...

Loving all the photos! I've learned a lot about you this week!

debbierfischer said...

Love these photos! M, it's like you have a double life in two different centuries. Super cool and interesting. I'm loving the bonnet. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the delightful post today, to end a great week. I can tell how passionate you are about your book and that makes me want to read it even more! Zu

gabe said...

Got your arc at TLA and look forward to reading about the backward times in your book. Historical fiction is the best!
congrats

M.P. Barker said...

Thanks everyone! It was a fun job--not too many places you get to play make-believe for a living and get a historical education at the same time!

MPB