I read magazines. Every Look and Life and Saturday Evening Post I could get my hands on. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the whole process. Give me a vintage magazine and I'm the happiest girl on earth. All those glossy, full color ads of lipsticks and Jell-o; huge cars swallowed in gleaming chrome, and Lark cigarettes. Everything NEW! And NOW! Newspapers. I found an online cache from a small Michigan town which had archived every print since the late 1800s, and read and read and read. I think I must have been an adman in a past life; I practically salivate over those vintage full-page spreads. Even butter. Have you ever seen a butter ad from 1956? Run to your refrigerator now and spread a good dollop on a wedge of freshly toasted wheat. That's what an ad is supposed to do. However, the trick wasn't to show these fine details directly in the book—I didn't want my main character spouting off the price of butter and real estate in 1956. For me it was important to show it more than state it. With my saturation came an ease of story. I could now have Emma wander through this landscape without a flinch. At times, my 2000's world became a little hard to bear.
They didn't have social media back then, they were social media. People had a sense of community. They said hello to each other on the street. They tapped their horns, tipped their hats, chewed the fat and walked the extra mile. John Wayne was their hero, not Justin Beiber. But that's not to say society in the 50s was perfect. Racism was an undercurrent ready to explode and everyone knew it: some were ready to fight for it, some against it. Anti-sexism and the rise of the feminist was burgeoning as well. Man, who had risen from the rations and horrors of WWII, was ready to sit in his favorite easy chair and live a happy, unmarred existence. But the unbalance was there and Man would never quite get his rest. I did try to show this in The Time Seekers, because I felt that it—far more than any car or TV show—was the most interesting part of the decade. Anyone progressive enough to rise above the fray seemed to befriend Emma. There's something about that which made me very happy.
Since reading Time and Again by Jack Finney I've had the desire to write a time-travel romance. It's yet to be said if I managed to write it successfully. My fear is that I've written an Edsel. If so, then at least the process was fun and, well, time to go watch Howdy Doody.