The first time around, Becca and Alastor lived in the turbulent times of the Civil War. While that was a favorite subject of mine (Gone With the Wind, anyone?), I was clueless what role the town of Corydon played.
I began my research with the Battle of Corydon itself and discovered that while not covered that deeply in textbooks, it was as dramatic as any other battle for those that lived through it. I read the facts, but they seemed oddly detached. I came across the actual Corydon Weekly newspaper article and that lead to a from a young girl that survived the attack. I've included parts of it, but you can read more about her experience at IndianaPublicMedia.org. The young girl was Attia Porter and she lived in Corydon.
Our home guards skirmished with the rebs from the river to Corydon . . . . The battle raged violently for thirty minutes, just think of it! And on account of the large number of the rebs we were forced to retire which our men did in good earnest every one seemed determined to get out of town first . . . . I don’t want you to think I am making fun of our brave home guards for I am not in the least. But now, that all the danger is over, it is really funny to think how our men did run.
While the section above may read as though she amused by it all, the next section on the site proves how truly terrified she was of the situation.
I think that was the awfullest day I ever passed in my life. The rebels reported around that they shot father because he would not surrender, but it was all a story. . . . We killed six or eight of theirs and wounded twenty five or thirty. I expect you are tired of hearing about Morgan so I will stop.
I couldn't help but note that perhaps that terror and the image of the rebel forces invading would scar a person forever. Now imagine if you were a soldier and heard of this attack on your town, but you are fighting in another part of the country. That was the exact circumstances I wanted for my doomed lovers. I wanted Becca to be traumatized by the raid and for Alastor to be racked with guilt that he wasn't there to protect her. That created the perfect backdrop (backstory) for what became of their murderous relationship.
To me, what happened to make these characters the way that they are is just as important as what is currently happening to them. To all my writer friends out there, do you agree? To all my readers, how important is a relevant backstory?