Sunday, March 16, 2014

Historical Research -- Non-Pertinent Information

Good Morning. Now that THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE is published (yes, yesterday as a matter of fact, and is available everywhere) I took a look at the next story I'm going to write in the Reluctant Grooms series. LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING.

Now, for those of you who have read my books, you know Lady Olivia plays an important factor in almost all of them. She's a busy body of the first water, a dragon, a harpy, but if she likes you, her friendship knows no bounds. She also thinks she's a matchmaker.

What you don't know about Lady Olivia will surprise you, which is why this post came about. In order to write Olivia's story, and the subsequent two remaining books in the series, I had to do a lot of "unnecessary" research. I say unnecessary, but it's not. It's more tedious than anything really.

Olivia carries a secret that I didn't even know she had until last year, which is also why it took me so long to develop the first two books (LADY'S MASQUERADE and now CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE). I wanted to make sure I planted the seeds of it early, so if you care to read the whole series in order, it won't come out of left field. I guess you might call it a "theme", but I never intended it that way.

So, here's some non-pertinent information I had to develop for Olivia that involved research.

* She's a Churchill. Yes, THAT Churchill. (She's Winston's relative).
* She was married at 20, to a man who was 62. (I developed family trees for both.)
* Her friends when Fuzzy (her husband Fitzhugh) was alive included, the King and Queen, George Grenville, Duke of Portland, Shelburne, Lord North (these men were all major players in Parliament during the American Revolution.)
* She's a staunch supporter of the Whigs (although Fuzzy was a Tory).
* She's having an affair with the butler Quiggins. Shocking I know. But she loves him. (And by the way, Quiggins is not actually a butler. I touch on that a little bit in LADY'S FATE. And in uncovering who HE really is, involved more research.)

And so you may wonder, why did I do all this non-pertinent information searching? Because I need to know it. I can't write a book that involves the history of England during the time of the Regency without it. Even though it's fiction, I still need it to be believable. And even though sometimes I fudge a little on the details**, I still need to make it coherent. I need to sound like I know what I'm talking about. And for the most part, I do.

I can't claim I know everything, because well, I'm a writer, not an historical researcher (although, I could probably get a job doing that), but I know more than most, and I could probably get through a round of Jeopardy and win the "Regency" category. lol

If you follow my blog posts, you know I kvetched about the research I had to do for COINCIDENCE. Ships, cannon fire, mapping, nautical references (I can insult someone fifteen ways to Sunday now and not swear once), traveling times, America and their part in the Napoleonic Wars (which incidentally was a lot more than they teach in school), and who was in charge of what department at Whitehall. I did the same thing with Greenleigh in ROMANCING LADY RYDER with the Russians.

Some of it showed up in the books, but for the most part, I didn't bog the story down with all the details. You would have been bored. (Maybe you are) But to me, those unnecessary bits of research that mean nothing to you, allow me to develop the stories and my characters more fully (at least in my mind) so I can give the readers a fuller broader scope of it all.

** As for fudging the details -- because what I write is FICTION, I have taken some information and distorted it to make it fit better in my book. In COINCIDENCE for instance, the Pirate Moody was a real pirate from North Carolina. However, he plied the waters off the coast of America in the early 1700's, not 1800's. Also, I refer to the artist Thomas Gainsborough. In my story, however, he is Thomas Gaines-Borough, so he can be related to Richard Gaines the hero in COINCIDENCE. (I'm sure I'll get letters about THAT.) In the DUKE's DIVORCE, I took the facts about divorce in the early 1800's and distorted them to fit the book. And we all know that Prince George could not create Letters Patent, however, he had a hand in them for William in MASQUERADE. I write FICTION.

Tell me -- How far do you go when researching? Do you get in, get what you need and get out? Or, do you follow the trails of tangents that you think might be important, or maybe interesting?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


  1. I can get lost in research, which for the most part, I totally enjoy doing. As writers I think we are allowed to move dates and facts around to fit the story so long as we remain true to the era we're writing about.

  2. Bish -- Yeah, I think that's my problem with research too...I find something and then something more, and just one more thing, and then five hours have gone by and I haven't written one word. That's the part I hate, it's time consuming and I would rather use that time to write, but... yeah, you know how that goes.

  3. Long time no visit... My dear, you are positively strides ahead of moi in the publishing stakes. Another release, no less! Oh lordy, lordy. Don't mention research, it's almost as good as reading a good book. One gets so carried away with spicy scandals, not to mention rumours reverberating around the gentlemens' clubs and antics of the haute beau monde. Shocking, don't you know. Just the other day I almost choked on teacake when reading the pages from the 1st Duchess of Northumberland's diary. She was such a wit and had a wonderful way with words in describing fellow aristocrats in general. ;) So, Lady Olivia is still at it, setting the world to rights and playing at cupid. Wonderful!

  4. Oh Francine, it has been an age hasn't it. You're certainly no slouch in the publishing department either. And yes, as much as I hate research, I only hate it because I love it. I could read for hours. Most recently the Duchess of Devonshire. I forgot all about poor Georgianna. However, now that I remember, I think I will make her an acquaintance of Lady Olivia. And Lady O will get her comeuppance in the next novella. She will be UNDONE! lol Good to see you.

  5. Oh, I am so intrigued. Can't wait to get to know Lady Olivia better. She's such a "presence" in all your stories. It will be fun to find out how she got that way!

  6. Liza -- Money, Power, Title. What every woman in 1811 wanted. What will happen if it all goes away? Wait and see.


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