Writing Research is the Best Research

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I often have to do a bit of research for my writing. This latest novel, which is set here on Earth in the near-ish future, required some digging into some interesting topics. I’m currently researching types of explosives (and wondering if I’m getting myself placed on a watch list somewhere). Before that, it was the city of Plymouth in England. This same story called for information about the Banana River in Florida, and the Darling River in Australia.

At one point, my heroin needs a place to stay in London and she chooses to stay at a bed and breakfast. I knew just what I was looking for (and indeed, what I had already written), and I wanted to find something like it in London. I guess I thought it would be cool if something that it were realistic and available. Well guess what? I found it!

I give you, The Hurlingham Bed & Breakfast:

I mean…wow.
Perfection

It is simply lovely looking. Now, most of you know that I have never been to London, or England, or anywhere except a small town in Canada. No matter! I have Google maps and street view. Using my super tech skills (haha), I did some sleuthing and realized that this lovely, perfect, idyllic gem of a place is just too far from the hospital in downtown London that I chose for some important scenes.

Not to be stumped, I decided to do a bit more research and find something closer. And ta-da! I found a hip, affordable hostel that I would absolutely stay in if I didn’t have to share a room with strangers (sorry, it’s a thing).

I give you, The Horse & Stables:

It just says ‘London’ to me.

This place is an awesome looking hostel right in the heart of London. It’s situated across the Thames from the Palace of Westminster. Westminster is also a key location in my novel, so that was a plus. The Horse & Stables looks really cool. Sort of hip. I mean, check out these other photos:

Totally slick, but not the right fit for my heroin. What’s an author to do? Smash ’em together and bend the truth! So while my bed and breakfast isn’t exactly either of these, it was inspired by both of them. Add these two spots to my (very) long list of places to visit once I get to England!

Regency Knowledge

Leave me here, please.

It has recently come to my attention that what I know of Regency life is but a smattering. A mere tip of the proverbial iceberg. Bits and pieces gleaned from various period dramas and one very research paper. I’ve stumbled upon a few errors in my thinking recently (editors are a wealth of knowledge), and I am resolved to fill in my spotty knowledge of my favorite historical era.

Upon reaching this conclusion, I did what everyone does nowadays. I Googled. And I found a lovely blog full of information by one Maria Grace. She blogs at Random Bits of Fascination, a blog that I highly recommend for its truly interesting and well-researched posts. I particularly enjoyed this one about circulating libraries.

I’m trying to find information about clubs and societies that flourished during the Regency Period. I know about Gentlemen’s Clubs like White’s. But what of other groups? Did people during this period get together for book clubs? Did they form societies to further a common interest like history or art?

I can’t wait to find out.

Nineteenth Century Fashion

19th Century Fashion by Terrize on Deviant Art

What began as research for a vignette (more on that later), has developed into a deep dive into the history of women’s fashion in England. I’ve always loved the costumes in Austen films, but I never realized just how interesting those free flowing, form showing dresses were in regards to history.

As you can see in this lovely graphic by Terrizae on Deviant Art, the empire waist dresses with their freely moving skirts were a mere blip on the map of fashion. As early as 1830, those big skirts were back.

Beautiful as they were, the large hoop skirts made it difficult to move about in a normal way. Can you imagine just trying to sit down in one of those? I think most of us modern ladies would have a hard time managing. And let’s not even think about going to the bathroom!

So why, then, did the empire-waist come into fashion at all? According to historic-uk.com, there was a renewed interest during this time period on Classical works of art and literature. That is to say, the Greeks and Romans were cool again, and people wanted to dress like them.

What I find so amusing is the fact that these dresses, like the one Elizabeth Bennet wears in every adaptation, were considered bold and daring! I confess, I would love to have each and every one of the dresses in this pretty graphic, if only I had somewhere to wear them!