Sunday, March 17, 2013

From my earliest childhood, our town library was one of my favorite haunts.  I spent many happy hours there, reading everything from Walter Farley's novels to Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man.  As I got older and began working on my degrees, I continued my love affair with libraries.  Some folks may have found the dim aisles of the stacks oppressive and lonely, but to me it was home.

When I began writing Isabelle's Confession, I soon realized that more research was in order.  Luckily for me, King County has a fantastic library system.  What they didn't own personally, they'd happily get for me through interlibrary loan, which was good because I needed detailed information on fourteenth century English weapons, clothing, food, housing, holidays, pastimes--innumerable details that make a historical novel fascinating and its characters more real.  I bought a few books, but most I borrowed from the library.  For the most part I avoided the Web, not trusting its reliability. 

I also had to be careful not to commit anachronisms.  I often turned to my big dictionary (both French and English) to see when words came into use.  I had a tough time deciding whether or not to use "explode," for example.  Words like "second" or "minute" were easier to avoid once I got into the mindset, although I did find a few had slipped in when doing a final read-through.  I was recently reading The Robe, and was annoyed to see that the author had left in a reference to alligators in his first-century story--a New World animal not known by Europeans at the time.  It may be nit-picky of me, but it interferes with my suspension of disbelief.  I suppose that's why I don't read much historical fiction.  I prefer to read biographies and books on history because I know their authors have done their homework (usually).  If I get into a book and find it doesn't meet my expectations I stop reading it.  Life's too short to read junk.

Next up: trying to find time enough and tranquility to write.

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