I love to learn new things when reading fiction. For example, I learned tons about the Regency era from Georgette Heyer, and I particularly enjoyed mysteries by Dick Francis, because I would learn something new with each book—about horse racing, art theft, glass-blowing…you name it.
As I have mentioned before, I’m not one of those writers who gets caught up in research. I’m far too impatient to delve deep, because I want to get on with writing the story. On the other hand, I love all the interesting facts I pick up while doing research or reading blogs. Collette Cameron’s blog last week about chatelaines reminded me of this. I love cool stuff from the past, and when something old-fashioned tickles my fancy, I try to find a place for it in one of my stories, in the hope that readers will enjoy these bits and pieces.
Like, for example, books of hours. These were illuminated medieval books with prayers, psalms, stories of the saints, and so on. They are absolutely gorgeous. One of these lovely books plays a small part in my novel, Love and the Shameless Lady, and a larger part in the one I’m working on (with great difficulty) now. In the interest of research, or maybe just being able to leaf through it and enjoy it, I even bought myself a little facsimile book of hours from a vendor in Australia. (http://www.goldgryph.com/boh.htm)
Or, for example, a Roman era cage cup. I learned about this from a friend of mine who is an expert on ancient Greece and Rome. I was dreaming up a bunch of antiques (again, for Love and the Shameless Lady), and she mentioned the Lycurgus Cup.
Wow! This glass cup is from the 4th century. According to Wikipedia, “the glass has been painstakingly cut and ground back to leave only a decorative ‘cage’ at the original surface-level.” Also, the glass has a different color depending on lighting conditions. I couldn’t resist mentioning a similar cup in Love and the Shameless Lady. It doesn’t play a large part, but that doesn’t matter to me. I love slipping in little historical items, because that’s the kind of thing I like to read.
Do you like to be educated while you read? Or, like some readers, do you feel that history gets in the way of the story? How much history is just enough, and how much is way too much?
One commenter will win a copy of Love and the Shameless Lady or another of my stories, winner’s choice.
A death threat brings them together. Her past forces them apart.
Disgraced lady Daisy Warren serves ale in a tumbledown inn, sings crude songs for the smugglers, and writes romantic novels in her spare time. Shunned by her own class, she’s resigned to her lowly life—until someone tries to kill her.
Gentleman spy Sir Julian Kerr noses out seditionists and traitors. When he visits the inn to investigate two suspicious Frenchmen, he meets the lovely but hostile Daisy. He doesn’t intend to get involved with her—but then he learns that someone is threatening her life.
He wants to find out more—it’s part of his investigation.
He wants to protect her—he’s a chivalrous man.
He just wants her.
But will Daisy’s bitter past allow her to risk love again?