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Monday, 11 October 2010

Doing research, and Macmillan New Writers blog

I'm busy researching my next work in progresss and I'm out and about in Museums and libraries looking at non-fiction books and 16th and 17th century objects. I'm lucky in that I live in a very historic village next to two old towns - Kendal and Lancaster, both of which have castles. Kendal castle is a very scenic ruin and Lancaster Castle featured in The Lady's Slipper as it is also (still) the town gaol.

Last week I was in the museum at Lancaster, (see picture left) which tells the history of Lancaster, its Georgian heyday in the days of slave-trading and sugar, as well as its Roman artefacts.

In Kendal this week I went on a guided walk of Quaker sites (It being Quaker week), past the old burial ground, the sites of the soup kitchen during the famine, and the typical Kendal octagonal summerhouses. Kendal was a town with many well-to-do men who were Quakers, so their influence is very evident in the town. Most were involved in the woollen industry or in banking - Quakers were renowned for their fairness in monetary transactions. Below is Sepulchre Lane, the route to the old Quaker Burial Ground.

At the moment I am following my interest in the 17th century, but recently I have had a feeling I would like to go further back to the end of the Elizabethan era for my next book, so I am picking up books about the turn of the century and also collecting a store of visual images. I am investigating the period in Spain when England entered the thirty years war, and looking into the moorish influence on philosophy and religion in Spain, not to mention on architecture. Most of this I am doing through books and online, but I'm planning a visit to Spain soon!

If you want to know why I write historical fiction and why I choose the periods I write in, you can find out this week on the Macmillan New Writers Blog.


  1. The time-depth of European cultural geography is so difficult for us Americans to understand, and so intoxicating when we experience it through travels.

    I became an archaeologist mostly because of my experience of Germany for a few months when I was ten years old. Most of my vivid memories from that time are related to the history that was everywhere around us.

    I think if I lived somewhere with that kind of historical context and self-awareness of it, I would probably write historical fiction, too.

  2. I'm looking forward to getting down to my next book's research in a couple of weeks' time. It's great fun, isn't it? No going to Spain for me, though!

  3. Have a great time in Spain and get lots of researching do too.

  4. Hello Nevets,yes, I guess I appreciate our history more and more. I didn't know you were an archaeologist. So you'll know what I mean when I say it is a special experience to stand in the same spot that has been occupied by eight generations before me, and there is always an interesting story when something survives in memory that long.

    Nice to hear from you Alis and Jarmara.

  5. Deborah, that experience is absolutely amazing. When we were in Germany we toured a whole of castles and Roman ruins. The thing that really impacted me, though, was touring a Roman villa that was undergoing excavation. The idea that I was walking through a house where a family had lived so very long ago, was almost overwhelming.

    I specifically remember being struck by some mis-spelled, Latin graffiti in the bath that the archaeologists guessed was probably scrawled by children who had lived or visited there when the villa was a functioning home.

    It blew my mind.

    Still does.