Category Archives: research

A Sideways Look at Regency Life — All At Sea!

figure contemplating slightly stormy sea

When we read fiction set in the Regency period, we often come across references to sea journeys but, usually, they’re over pretty quickly. On one page, we’re at Dover or Harwich or Falmouth. A paragraph or two later, we’ve arrived at our destination and the story continues. (Not in all fiction, of course. Who could forget Mary Challoner’s horrendous cross-Channel trip in Heyer’s Devil’s Cub? Still, at least Vidal proffered a basin at the vital moment.)

Nowadays, our ships have GPS and radar and even engines! 😉 So this modern figure, staring out over a slightly stormy sea, has little to fear from going on board. But what was it really like, making a sea voyage on one of the Regency’s relatively tiny and fragile sailing craft?

Let’s take an imaginary sea journey…

Continue reading

This Book is Dedicated

I’ve always been fascinated by dedications in books. There’s the intriguing possibility that they are clues to something hidden. Probably private. Possibly intense. Potentially the whole reason for the book. Thrilling or what?

stuffed bookcase

This is the second time I’ve returned to the subject in this blog. First time round I wrote about a range of books, only some of which I knew really well. No, let’s be honest. One of which I detested.

This time I’m writing about one of my great loves. Twice, under pressure of space, I’ve cleared out copies from my bookshelf, believing that I wouldn’t need to read them again. Twice I’ve bought new copies.

Which Work?

Dedicated to Dorothy GanapathyThis is a dedication which intrigues me enormously. I was reminded of it by the recent sad news that  Tim Pigott-Smith has died. He played the ambiguous and haunting villain Merrick in the BBC’s epic series about the end of the Raj, The Jewel In the Crown. 

The series was based on Paul Scott’s mighty Raj Quartet.  Continue reading

Elizabethan York without Dung? Pamela Hartshorne guests

Sadly, today is the last of our series on research. But we’re finishing with a bang!
In delectable medieval York.

author-pamela-hartshorne-specialist-in-york

Today, we welcome Pamela Hartshorne, a York specialist. Her credentials are beyond doubt — she has a PhD in medieval studies — but she manages to wear her research very lightly. She has written dozens of books for Mills & Boon, a publisher that definitely doesn’t want dry background material to get in the way of the love story between hero and heroine.

Every time someone asked whether she’d use her research in a book, her answer was always no.
Until, one day …

One day, no finally became yes. Pamela turned to writing historical novels set in her beloved York, where she’d done her academic research. Was she taking a risk? Could she make the jump from Mills & Boon romance  to mainstream timeslip? Here’s her story . . .

Research may be useful … or not

tudor-york-map

John Speed’s late 16th century map of York

 

By the time I sat down to write a historical novel, I was feeling pretty confident. I’d already written over 50 books for Mills & Boon, so I figured I knew something about storytelling. Continue reading

Gritty Saga Research: Jean Fullerton guests

jean-fullerton-author-picTwo weeks ago, we had Katie Fforde digging in the dirt — with and without Ray Mears! — in order to write about life in the here-and-now. This week, we welcome Jean Fullerton who writes award-winning historical sagas about the not-so-very-long-ago.

It can seem worlds away from where we are now, even though some readers will have lived through the periods of Jean’s stories and experienced exactly the kind of gritty reality she describes. And if you enjoy Call the Midwife, you’ll love Jean Fullerton’s books.

Read on to find out more about the lengths an author goes to in order to get it right

Jean Fullerton, East London Author

Fullerton research 20th century nursing guide

District nurse Jean wasn’t quite like this!

 

I was born in East London where my family have lived since the 1820s.

I’ve written ten novels set in East London (published by Orion) and am just putting the finishing touches to my eleventh. This one is set during the Second World War, and also in East London. I’m now a full-time writer but I was a District Nurse in East London for over 25 years. These days, I live with my hero just outside London. Continue reading

Sugar tongs at dawn? Elizabeth Rolls guests

It’s useful, when researching, to be able to consult people who were there. But go back more than a century or so — to the Regency in Britain, for example — and there are no living witnesses to consult. Elizabeth Rolls authorRegency novelists — like today’s guest, Elizabeth Rolls — have to rely on other sources.

You may imagine that “other sources” means dusty history books and written materials. But there’s much more than that.

And getting to grips with the non-written stuff can present the odd challenge if the author in question lives 12,000 miles away, in Australia.

As Elizabeth Rolls does…

Elizabeth Rolls loves her research

To research or not to research?

For me, research is a must. I’ve had a book kick off in my mind over a snippet about the crossroads burial of suicides in the early 19th century. The past is very much a foreign country, but add 12 000 miles into the equation and you have a real challenge. Continue reading

Katie Fforde & Research: Guest Blog

katie-fforde-author-picKatie Fforde is a true country girl at heart, living in the Cotswold countryside with her family. And she’s a huge bestseller, as well as being President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Katie believes falling in love is the best thing in the world, and she wants all her characters to experience it, and her readers to share their stories.

We readers love those stories for their warm-hearted characters, their gentle comedy and their guaranteed happy endings.

Katie sets her stories in the here and now. So she doesn’t need to do research, right?

Wrong. Katie Fforde does research too, some of it the hard way. Ray Mears survival training, anyone?

Read on for Katie Fforde’s very individual take on doing research.

Katie Fforde does Research? Yes, really

Many years ago a friend who wrote historical fiction heard me mention doing some research. She said, “But you write contemporary, you don’t need to do research.”

How wrong she was!

Starting with potting

Continue reading

Fantasy research: sweat the small vampires? Kate Johnson guests

fantasy author Kate Johnson with book The Untied Kingdom

How do you do fantasy research?
Do you actually have to?
Surely it’s all just make-believe?

Intriguing questions, aren’t they?

And we at Libertà didn’t have the answers, so we tagged fantasy and alternate-history author Kate Johnson to tell us how she does it. Being Kate, she gave us explanations with a side-order of slightly weird.

Enjoy the fun!

Kate Johnson’s take on fantasy research, and more

How on earth do you research things that don’t exist?

Well, here’s the thing: you might be writing about vampires or spaceships or magic paperclips, if that’s what your heart desires, but you’ve got to make them believable.fantasy research Spike and Joyce
You’ve got to make the reader trust you, and if you get the details wrong, they won’t.

Sweat the small stuff. Continue reading

Handcuffed? Research? Guest Post by Patricia McLinn

Today we begin our research series with a guest post from USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn. You may know her as a writer of romance and women’s fiction, but she loves writing on the dark side too, as you’ll see if you read on.

patriciamclinn

Handcuffed? Patricia McLinn comes clean

I was put in handcuffs back in August.

That was after I made another car spin out in a PIT maneuver. Though the handcuffs weren’t because of spinning out the other car. They were because, Continue reading

Researching — Introducing a Libertà Celebration

celebrating year 1 with researching champagne

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LIBERTÀ!

Here at Libertà, we’re about to celebrate our first birthday! Strictly speaking, it’s on 7th December but we did open the website in November 2015 so we’re spending a few weeks researching for our celebration, in the run-up to
The Big Day.

Helped by a host of our writing friends.

Researching just means dusty old books, doesn’t it?

Nope. Our friends will be telling us about researching in a fun way.
Because their research is fun. Continue reading

New Heyer Stories? Guest Post by Jennifer Kloester

jen-kloester-discoverer of new Heyer stories

© Greg Noakes 2011

 

Today we welcome Georgette Heyer’s biographer, Jennifer Kloester, to the blog. She has some exciting news for Heyer fans.

Jennifer has unearthed Heyer stories that were long out of print. And now, three new Heyer stories are being republished.

Read on for Jennifer’s detective story . . .

Snowdrift & Other Stories by Georgette Heyer

heyer-whose new stories are published

Georgette Heyer with her dog, Misty

Millions of romance readers the world over love Georgette Heyer’s sparkling Regency and Georgian novels. Since 1921 when, as a teenager, she published her first novel, The Black Moth, Heyer has delighted us. Continue reading