Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guest Author, Amelia Grey: To Search or Not to Search

Today I am pleased to welcome author of An Earl to Enchant, Amelia Grey!  You can read my review of her latest release by clicking here.  Amelia has written a fascinating article for us today on research, which for writers or historical fiction (romance or not) is extremely important!  Readers are not always aware of how much time and energy can go into finding one piece of pertinent information.

To Search or Not to Search

Good morning! Thank you for having me at History Undressed. I’m very happy to be here.

You know, one of the most confounding things about writing a book is the research. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes I just want to pull my hair out because I can’t find that one tiny bit of information that I’m looking for. I’ve published over twenty historicals from time periods ranging from the Revolutionary War to the Industrial Revolution, so I’ve certainly done my share of research in libraries and online. It took me a few books to realize that with every different time period I went to, I had to do weeks of research before writing the book. Finally, I caught on to what I was doing wrong, and I happily settled into the Regency time period. It’s been many years and nine books now since I completed the major research for the Regency, but I still find that with each book there is some bit of research eluding me and I must go searching.

With the first book, in my Rogues’ Dynasty Series, A Duke to Die For, I wanted my heroine to believe she was cursed. Quite frankly I didn’t know anything about curses. I was asking myself, what kind of powers does a person need to put a curse on someone and how would you know if someone put a curse on you? Anyway, there’s a ton of information out there and I read some very interesting stuff, but I finally decided that there are no hard and fast rules when you are writing about curses. Almost anything goes as long as you make it sound logically to the story you are telling.

In my second book in the Rogues’ Dynasty Series A Marquis to Marry, I wanted to write about a true, famous strand of pearls—The Talbot Pearls. I wanted them to be lost, found, and then stolen. In my author’ note at the end of the book I wanted to tell what actually became of the pearls, but no amount of research, including hiring a professional researcher, checking books, museums’ lists, and old account records of the Countess of Shrewsbury, led to the final resting place of the pearls. My researcher and I finally had to give up and assume the strands of pearls were probably sold or pawned and were eventually broken up to make smaller necklaces. But it was most disheartening not to be able to say for sure what became of the pearls.

And with the third book in the series, An Earl To Enchant, which is currently on sale at your favorite local or online bookstore, I wanted my heroine to have spent several years in India.

One of the most interesting things I discovered was that in India they don’t wear black for mourning and they don’t mourn for months which fit right in with my plot very well. Also young ladies wore brightly colored clothing while during the Regency it was frowned upon for an unmarried lady to dress in bold, vivid colors. And it took more than a day or two of researching for me to figure out the route my heroine would have taken from India to England which I found out would have most likely included a stop in Alexandria, Egypt.

So sometimes it can easy to find out what I need and sometimes very frustrating. Why don’t you tell me, does it frustrate you if an author doesn’t clear up missing facts in her author’s notes?

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Amelia's book!  (2 winners, US and Canada only)

The first chapter of my third book in the Rogues’ Dynasty Series An Earl To Enchant is available on my website. I invite you to stop by and give it a try. I’m always happy to hear from readers. Please e-mail me at ameliagrey@comcast.net or visit my website at ameliagrey.com.


He’s determined not to be a hero…
Lord Morgandale is as notorious as he is dashing, and he’s determined no woman will tie him down. But from the moment Arianna Sweet appears on his doorstep, he cannot resist the lure of her fascinating personality, exotic wardrobe, and tempting green eyes…

She has a deadly secret…

Arianna Sweet never imagined the significance of her father’s research until after his untimely death. Now she is in possession of his groundbreaking discovery, one that someone would kill for. She can’t tell Lord Morgandale her secret, but she knows she needs his help, desperately…

About the Author

Winner of the Booksellers Best Award and the Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter, Amelia Grey's books have been sold in Europe, Russia and China. Married for twenty-five years to her high school sweetheart, she has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and now calls Panama City Beach, Florida, home. For more information, please visit www.ameliagrey.com.


Amelia said...

Good morning Everyone! I'll be checking in several times today to see if anyone has questions or comments so let me hear from you! Amelia

Rebecca Lynn said...

I appreciate the thoughts on research. I always enjoy it, because I'm a researcher as well as a writer, when authors include a note about their research and how they made their decisions. Especially if they played around with well-known history. Of course, it bothers me when authors get history wrong, but I usually flip right to the back (to the note) and check to see if they at least did it on purpose. :-)

Anita Clenney said...

I find myself getting very distracted with research. I'll start searching for something and then find myself an hour later, not only with no answer, but I forgot what I was looking for. Researching can be fun, frustrating, and a time stealer. Have you discovered a way to keep focused when researching? And do you keep files so you have earlier research at your fingertips?

Professor Stacy said...

When reading historical works, I like the history to be accurate, and I like the notes at the end clearing up any remaining mysteries.

I love doing research, and I find myself side tracked by my imagination way too often! Do you do any of your own research or do you have the research assistant(s)? How do you decide what to tackle and what to delegate?

ladyhawthorne said...

I always appreciate notes on the true history and mentions of literary license. I don't mind fabrication as long as it is not put forth as history. And I do always enjoy any info at the end to say what happened about a person or item. It gives so much more to the story.

Isabel Roman said...

I love research, though I do admit to becoming distracted with it. And its usually when I need one little detail and am really in the writing zone and don't want to stop. I bookmark those sites for later perusal. Thanks for your thoughts, Amelia!

Amelia said...

I do the same thing. I love reading authors' notes and I like to include them.

Anita, I used to keep more research when I used the library so much. I admit I'd copy pages from books but now with the internet I don't save much paper research anymore.

Professor, you'll be happy to know I do most of my research but I don't mind calling on help when I need it as was with the Talbot pearls. I was determined to find out what happened to them, but never did! By any chance, do you know? :-)
Ladyhawthrone, I agree completely.
Isabel, I always want to go back and read more but lately, I never see to find the time.

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

I love to read author's comments at the end of a book. Jo Beverley is one usually includes something in her notes about research and/or the liberties she's taken. I think author's notes are like little peeks into the author's lives, how they think, etc. As for research for myself, I get swept away in it. I am currently researching China in the late 1800's for a story I will write and I was lost for three hours on clothing alone!

Jena Lang said...

Hi Amelia,

Your new book sounds like a fabulous read!

I like to research new time periods, especially the clothing people wore. I can easily waste too many hours reading about historical fashions.

I love to read the author's notes at the end of a book. I always learn something new.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

It sounds like you enjoy your research. I love history and research is joy. Luckily for me I live where my stories are set - where gold was discovered in 1849. There are so many places to explore and people to talk to that stories thrive in my imagination.

Your stories sound wonderful and exciting reads. I must check them out myself and start reading more and writing less. Just not enough time to do everything I love.

Nice to meet you.

Beth Caudill said...

I love to do research, just to find out interesting things.

You said you wrote other time periods, what were those and what made the Regency stick out for you?

I love how you incorporate humor into your books.

Allison Chase said...

Hi Amelia! An Earl To Enchant is going on my TBR pile! I also love research, and I love to challenge myself with new locales and subjects for each book to keep things fresh. The internet is extremely helpful, but I still prefer books, and I've found that hunting down out-of-print books can be invaluable.