Monday, March 26, 2007


It’s time consuming, distracting, and annoying. It’s also very fascinating, and, thanks to the internet, oh-so handy. Thank God, because I can’t imagine doing this kind of nitpicking research any other way.

My WIP takes place in England during August, 1882. It’s AU in that there is a very prevalent if illegal community of magic-practitioners. Everything else is the 1882 of our history.

Like telephones. There’s a scene where my heroine must call London from Yorkshire. Panic – when did the telephone come into common use? After 1882? Before? That year? Would they have been in the country, as opposed to cities?

The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) and first exhibited at American Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in June 1876. Telephones did not appear in England until the following year, when W H Preece, electrician to the Post Office, brought two telephones back from a visit to America and, although he himself remained sceptical as to their usefulness, demonstrated them to the British Association.

OK, phew. Good. And all for one 8-worded sentence. Check!

Railroads… Forgetting the earlier versions, even the 18th century ones, I’m talking about the ones we’re familiar with now. The ones powered by coal or wood. The ones I KNOW were in use by 1882, but not entirely sure where. Did they go to Leeds? Was that a main station, or merely a by-pass? Yup, they were.

But then there was the whole ‘newer’ invention of electric trolleys. Ack!

OK, OK, forget that…a vague mention of trains will do just fine. Check!

But that brings me to the electricity portion of my story. The turnover from gas lamps to electric bulbs.

My WIP takes place at a country manor, not a London townhouse. Would they have bulbs there, or still use gas lamps? And why did I have to set my story in the country? What’s wrong with London?

Yes. Bulbs for the rich and titled were in use. Check!

I won’t even go into the pain-in-the-*ss research that went into Victorian Mourning/Funeral Rites. And I don’t just mean a person’s mourning – I mean the house’s mourning. It’s unbelievable. Still, I Check! it off my list.
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England from 1811-1901 by Kristine Hughes

Sigh…ok, so far not so bad. I’ve managed not to get lost in the research, had found what I needed, wrote it down and saved the sites do I could find them again should I need them, and haven’t gone insane.

And I still have 5 chapters to go.


Susan Macatee said...

This is exactly why I stick to the Civil War period. As a reenactor, I've already had to learn a lot of this stuff.

Even so, I still have to look up things that I don't know.

Kristin-Marie said...

Great topic.

Denise Eagan said...

Crhistine, woman, I hear your pain! But I do get lost in the research--right now it's stalkers. So I got a crime book. I cannot resist reading about serial killers, mass murderers etc, even though that's not part of the story. I keep thinking it might be part of another story--I should know this!

Thus I have huge 3 ring binders of useless research, and the kicker is, I couldn't find what I really need to know to save my soul. It's just easier to go back to the library! :)

Anonymous said...

Dee you're too much! Though I can easily see how stalkers would interest a person. I’ve steered clear of them mostly because they are so fascinating. Though Susan might have the right of it: Stick with what you know. But Susan, there’s so many cool things out there, how can you not digress?

I cut and paste 'relevant' pieces - topics, tidbits, things, and thoughts into Word. I then save them under whatever I call them (curses, pregnancy, ice festivals, whatever) and dump them all in a lovely folder called WRITING MISC.

I add to that folder often, you never know, right? I've looked through the docs maybe twice.

Susan Macatee said...

Christine, I just feel why spend months researching a different time period, when I already know so much about the Civil War?

And I'm hoping there's a market out there for them.

After the Civil War books, I plan to move to futuristics. Now, that's a lot of work. I have to build a planet, and an alien society, but I get to make up most of the rules.