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Delighted for it to be Love Books Group blogs tour stop. I love the cover for Beneath the Water a novel that mixes historical fiction with psychological thriller. Today I have a guest post from Sarah Painter which is called Five Research Tips From An Accidental Historical Author for you to enjoy.
Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…
Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.
At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.
Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?
| Author Guest Post |
Five Research Tips From An Accidental Historical Author
By Sarah Painter
I never intended to write historical fiction. I started out with three books featuring the Harper family, which mixed contemporary fiction with a touch of magic. The idea for my next book, In The Light of What We See, was a darker tale featuring a woman recovering from a terrible accident. It had been simmering in my mind for a long time, but when it finally came to the boil I discovered that there was a second strand to the narrative… One set in the 1930s.
I had grown up listening to my gran’s stories about nursing during that time, so the period felt very familiar. The research I did deepen my knowledge and was certainly rewarding, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would fall in love with historical research. The feeling when I uncovered an interesting fact which moved my story in a new direction, or the perfect detail for a passage of description, was intoxicating.
Bitten by the bug, my new novel, Beneath The Water, also had to include a historical strand. I love the way in which echoes of past lives are all around us, evident in our landscape, architecture and culture, and I wasn’t finished exploring those ideas.
Beneath The Water really came to life when I became obsessed with the 19th century thirst for knowledge and experimentation, and the lengths to which people went in order to make medical advances. In particular, I became fascinated by James Young Simpson, the fine Edinburgh doctor who pioneered the use of anaesthesia for childbirth (during a time when a woman’s suffering was seen as Godly and just).
So, while I’m definitely a historical-writer-in-training, here are five tips I’ve gathered so far…
- Read novels written during the era. Yes, they are fiction, but they still give a feel for the language of the day, as well the sensibilities and culture.
- Read non-fiction and visit museums, but try to limit this until after you have finished your first draft. You want the facts to add authenticity to your story, not constrain it. Also, if you do the intense research you will feel compelled to include it all, and a light touch is best. Readers want character and story, not a ton of historically-accurate detail.
- Collections of letters from the time period are wonderful for finding out how people actually wrote. This was invaluable for researching Beneath The Water, as the 1847 narrative is written entirely through Jessie Lockhart’s letters to her sister.
- The Old Bailey online. Transcripts from criminal trials held at the London court between 1694-1913 are available to read in a fully-searchable database. It is fascinating (and sometimes creepy) to read the actual words spoken in these trials, and they give an insight into the lives of ordinary people, rather than the famous historical or literary figures often served by other sources.
- Newspapers are another mine of golden information and the news stories, photographs and adverts give a real flavour of the time. The National Library of Scotland has an amazing digital collection, available to browse online if you register.
Old Bailey: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/
National Library of Scotland: https://auth.nls.uk/eresources/
My author site: www.sarah-painter.com
My site for writers: worriedwriter.com
Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter is published by Lake Union Publishing and available now.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things In My Letterbox Book Blog Tours for the opportunity to be on the blog tour.
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