well, one of my favorite things to do when writing is every once and a while making a character after me or someone close to me.
For example in your case, you could research where your ancestors were from then see if there are any disasters happen in the course of history in that (how do I put it) civilization? Then make a character that's based off you. This is of course if you haven't already done this.
(You could even include your dog as the characters pet? XD)
By the way I love your books. I bet you learn so much while writing historical fiction. Best job ever!!