I tend to have main characters in my stories that are from a culture other than my own.
I don't know why, but growing up I always was sensitive to other cultures and interested in how they lived. I think it came from living in a white community and only seeing the different cultures on television and in books that I read that piqued my curiosity.
Now as a writer, I can explore the different lives and cultures and then add that newly discovered information into my books.
In Miner in Petticoats, Ethan falls for a Scottish widow. Reading about the Scots and how she would have ended up in America in the 1800's was a fun walk into the Scot and Irish history. I listened to Scots people talking to get a flavor of the language and read a couple of Scottish tales to get a feel for their culture and how they interact. While writing this book I listened to Celtic music.
What I didn’t realize that while building Tino’s background I would throw in government turmoil(in Venezuela) his family fleeing that country and his teen and adult years being spent in the United States. With this as his background, I could give him the macho attitudes of the Latin men but also have him more tolerant of the heroine’s independence because he had lived in the states. His Latin machismo comes out when he is fighting his attraction to the skinny, brainy woman he wouldn't usually look twice at. While writing these books I listened to the music of the books' settings- Mayan, Aztec, and Native American.
The book I am currently writing is again one where I have to learn about another culture. Claiming a Heart the third book in the Halsey Homecoming trilogy begins in an underground Chinese community. I've been reading books written about the Chinese in America at that time and their underground and above ground communities. To write this book I downloaded traditional Chinese music.
By having the music of a specific culture playing in the background, I stay grounded in that culture while writing.
Do you like books that teach you about other cultures? Do you like to listen to music from other cultures?