My guest today is historical romance writer, Georgie Lee, author of Mask of the Gladiator. All writers do research and some of them, like me, do it rather willy-nilly with no direction or focus. Georgie has agreed to share some of her research tips with us.
~ Get Ready to Delve Into Research ~
I am a non-fiction history fanatic and I have been since junior high. I’m not saying I didn’t read my share of Sweet Valley High or Flowers in the Attic, but I was probably the only one in my class devouring tomes on Tudor England or ancient Egypt. I’m so familiar with the historical section of the library that, depending on what I’m working on, I know instantly whether to head for the 930s or the 940s. For my ancient Rome novella, Mask of the Gladiator, I headed straight to the 930s and delved into the tense days surrounding the assassination of Emperor Caligula.
Not everyone is as big a history buff as I am or as eager to crack open a history book. However, if you’ve ever visited an old home or heard a great snippet of local lore and thought “That would make a great story,” get ready to delve into some non-fiction. To help you take the plunge, I’ve compiled a few tips to get you started.
So, let’s begin.
First, learn about the era. Choose some overview books and delve in to the politics, people and feel of a time period. For instance, if you know you want to write a book set in France, you’ll find a very different country under Louis XIV than Louis XVI. Also, understanding the bigger picture can help you craft your story. Your characters will have a very different experience in Versailles France than they will in Revolutionary France.
Now that you know about an era, pinpoint the date the story takes place then narrow down your research. Discover who was and wasn’t alive at the time and what did and didn’t exist. Learn about the politics and current events and the thoughts and ideas influencing people’s lives. Study the art and architecture, get a real sense of what it was like to live during that exact moment in time.
Once you know your date, learn about the details of daily life. Everything from the food and clothes to the language and daily rituals will help you craft your story and make the characters more believable. Also, when your plot hits a sticking point, a little research can go a long way to helping get your story back on track.
Speaking of tracking, don’t forget to keep track of your research. Take detailed notes along with the book title and page number and make sure to keep it organized. Collect it in a binder or post it to a note taking website. You never know when an editor will ask a question and you’ll have to back up your answer with your research.
I hope you enjoyed this brief primer on research and that it helps you get started. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and ideas. I always enjoy hearing about and learning from other people’s methods.
Mask of the Gladiator
By Georgie Lee
Rome, 41 AD
Livia Duronius is driven to seek out a gladiator after watching him triumph in the Colosseum. His touch arouses a sense of hope she hasn't felt since Rome fell under the tyrannical rule of Caligula—and her late husband betrayed her. Though in danger of losing more than her heart, she vows to see him again, even after she learns her uncle has arranged her marriage to a senator.
Senator Titus Marius cannot resist indulging in a passionate encounter with the veiled woman who waits for him after the games, though he faces execution if his true identity is discovered. Bound by honor to wed another, and embroiled in a plot to free Rome from madness, he never expects to see the mystery woman again.
When the fates reunite them in the marriage bed, Titus vows to protect Livia at all costs—even from the lecherous eyes of the emperor...
A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her traditional Regency, Lady’s Wager and her contemporary novella Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood is currently available from Avalon Books. Mask of the Gladiator, a novella of ancient Rome is now available from Carina Press. Look for her novel of love in the golden age of Hollywood from Avalon Books in 2012.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.comfor more information about Georgie and her novels.
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