When I wrote FELICITY CARROL AND THE PERILOUS PURSUIT, I was writing about Victorian England, and that meant research, research, research. Then research some more.
Research everything from underclothing to what Scotland Yard looked like to what people ate for dinner to greeting a royal. This was my first Victorian era novel so I had a lot to learn.
As a former news reporter, I was used to research. It also helps that I love to learn. There are great resources out there for the era. Make that thousands of websites on various aspects of Victorian life. For example, I needed my heroine to get from one place to another and wondered if a train ran between them. I emailed the British Railroad Museum and asked. They answered and I am grateful. When describing what Felicity was wearing or how castles were structured, I checked out historical photos and that helped me. Google Earth was cool to understand how London streets are set out. Then I used my imagination and the research to write how they appeared in the 1880s. Just make sure to thank the resources in your acknowledgements.
Readers of Victorian stories are very particular about that era so do the best you can. This lesson came in the form a reader calling me to task on an issue. In my defense, I did receive overall positive reviews for my depiction of Victorian England.
At a book signing a reader asked if I researched first and wrote second. It was the other way around, although items I discovered during my research did cause me to change the writing to make it fit the history.
Felicity’s next adventure FELICITY CARROL AND THE MURDEROUS MENACE is due out next year. And because I had one Victorian novel under my belt could I relax on my research?
If you learn nothing else about writing history, learn that you must research, research, research. Then research some more.