I adore historical novels. Everything I know about Rome comes from Colleen McCullough’s epic series about the rise of Julius Caesar and the crime-solving exploits of one Marcus Didius Falco created by Lyndsey Davis.
Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels are pure escapism to a world of bonnets and bosoms where achieving a good marriage is all that matters and I remember being swept away as a teenager with a passion to redress the burning injustices the Tudors piled on Richard III after reading Rosemary Hawley -Jarman’s We Speak No Treason.
I admire those writers who weave in authentic detail of setting, costume and language. I trust them as experts and, by osmosis, am seduced as a reader into thinking I am one myself.
Now my own jottings have led me to a more recent period, loosely based on family stories during the second world war, and I find myself being pulled irresistibly down that rabbit hole on the internet labelled “research”.
It’s the bane of every writer’s life; there you are busy scribbling away, letting your characters come to life on the page when you suddenly stop and think, “Oh, would she use that phrase?” or “What type of car would they be in?” or even “What is she wearing now?” and the next thing you know you have Pinterest boards, folders and family trees coming out of your ears.
And no more words are written that day.
I do try to be disciplined – simply make a scribbled note or a few italicised symbols and determine to check and fill it in later.
But oh, the siren call of research. Just another word for procrastination!