When writing historical fiction it is helpful for the writer to live as much as you can the activities of your characters: eat the foods, listen to the music, craft the art they make, and take the physical journey of the story (of course, if this is financially and time wise possible for the writer, which is not the case for everyone nor every book).
While rewriting my current work-in-progress, Cut From The Earth, a story about the 18th century famous Portuguese tile maker, monogram PMP, and his shop ̶ I made azulejos, tiles. The act of creating the Portuguese tiles gave me the chance to understand the materials and struggles and process of tile making, which is an integral part of the book and lends real authenticity. The result of taking such action as a writer is a deep understanding of one’s characters. The photo included with this post is the result of living my characters artistic process.
It is common for writers to visit the physical locations of one’s story, but I like to take it one step further ̶ the physical reenactment of the story as it evolves in my imagination while based on historical information. For Cut From The Earth, I walked the routes of my story while visiting and doing research in Lisbon, Portugal; and I traveled by boat from Belém to Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, seeing and living as much as I could my characters voyage in these places.
I realize it is a luxury to be able to do this, but it is all part of the fun for me ̶ to live portions of my stories. Blessed is the spirit of adventure in everyday life, and infusing it into historical fiction.