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Historical Romance Research
Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014 11:25 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

One of the things I have been hearing from editors and agents who work on historical romance titles is that the historical detail is just not believable enough.


It's easy to figure out details about political history (who was king when, what names were in common usage), but I think it's really hard to figure out things like clothes, furniture, food, and how long it would have taken to travel somewhere.


How are you historical romance writers going about your research? Any favorite websites or tools that you use?


Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 12:59 PM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65

I like to google topics, like:  everyday life in the Middle Ages, clothing worn by men/women in the Middle Ages; what people ate in the Middle Ages; things like that.  I also like to look for books in the library on topics I need.  The on-line book search lets me search for books by topic rather than by title.  But it's very easy to overwhelm yourself with information.  I try to limit my self to one or two sources for each topic; otherwise, I'd be drowning in info!
Mimi Speike
Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 6:35 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

Google it! You dredge up incredible stuff. I googled Castles Navarre last weekend and found a digitized book published in 1907 that is full of great nit-picky info, issues I never would have thought of on my own about titles, distribution of land, all kinds of neat facts. This is not boring stuff, not in the least, it's colorful as hell and I'm going to use as much of it as I can. The joy of research is, you go looking for something, and you'll find it, but you also stumble upon all kinds of stuff ten times better, and that's really what brings your story to life.


My husband is used to me jumping up and down and screaming, Honey, listen to this! Like the time I discovered that the pencil was invented at exactly the right time for me (1570s +/-) by sheep breeders in the part of northern England that my MC hails from. This is as good as it can be for my loopy purposes and it couldn't possibly be any better. It's the right period, the right place. The first large granite mine had just been discovered, granite hard enough to be sawed and encased in a wooden sleeve. That the pencil was invented by sheep-men for the purpose of marking sheep is the icing on the cake.


Google and Wikipedia, I swear by them.


--edited by Mimi Speike on 4/15/2015, 11:09 PM--

Mimi Speike
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:52 AM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I meant to say graphite, of course. A hundred years later they had invented a process for making pencil leads out of powdered graphite, but at the time the scarce hard graphite, sawed, was the only way. Why am I so thrilled about the sheep connection? I believe my numbskull sheep-cheese obsessed prince on the Iberian peninsula would have heard about the astonishing pencil technology, a writing implement able to be used on the fly, out in the field.

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