Plot Snafus and Hasty Research

20 Comments

  1. I think you’ve done enough research to justify the rain nearby your town. :) It seems quite plausible based on your discoveries.

  2. I think you've done enough research to justify the rain nearby your town. :) It seems quite plausible based on your discoveries.

  3. Excellent! Now I just hope that my other research supports my story.

  4. Excellent! Now I just hope that my other research supports my story.

  5. Yeah I don't joke around when I say I like research. :-D Plus, I didn't want to make a huge mea culpa just for a plot device!

    Plus, once I started digging, the most interesting information started to come up…like who knew winter storms got so bad in England that telegraph lines were destroyed? I know it's a stereotype but I always picture winter in southern England as picturesque, some snow dusting the green hills, maybe a snowdrift here and there. So it was wonderful to find that bit of info.

  6. Yeah I don’t joke around when I say I like research. :-D Plus, I didn’t want to make a huge mea culpa just for a plot device!

    Plus, once I started digging, the most interesting information started to come up…like who knew winter storms got so bad in England that telegraph lines were destroyed? I know it’s a stereotype but I always picture winter in southern England as picturesque, some snow dusting the green hills, maybe a snowdrift here and there. So it was wonderful to find that bit of info.

  7. Hi,

    I stumbled on your site by accident (I was searching "Swindon + blog"). By an amazing coincidence, I am a freelance journalist who works for the Swindon Advertiser. What's more, in 2006 I wrote a 200 (tabloid) page Chronicle of Swindon, going through the town's history, year by year.

    So I've naturally looked up 1887 – and there were no significant weather stories for that year. There have been several winters in the last 150 when very cold weather made a significant impact on the area, but 1887 wasn't one of them.

    One of the things I learned from the massive research I did for the Chronicle of Swindon is that winters in southern England used to be much more severe than they are now. All we seem to get now is rain, rain and more rain – even in summer. So, very cold weather and even snow would have been just as likely in February 1887 as rain.

    If you like, I'll have a look at the Swindon Advertiser's archives for February 1887 (which isn't online) to see what comes up (it was a monthly paper then, but now it's daily).

    Cheers,

    Graham Carter
    http://www.grahamcarter.net

  8. Hi,

    I stumbled on your site by accident (I was searching “Swindon + blog”). By an amazing coincidence, I am a freelance journalist who works for the Swindon Advertiser. What’s more, in 2006 I wrote a 200 (tabloid) page Chronicle of Swindon, going through the town’s history, year by year.

    So I’ve naturally looked up 1887 – and there were no significant weather stories for that year. There have been several winters in the last 150 when very cold weather made a significant impact on the area, but 1887 wasn’t one of them.

    One of the things I learned from the massive research I did for the Chronicle of Swindon is that winters in southern England used to be much more severe than they are now. All we seem to get now is rain, rain and more rain – even in summer. So, very cold weather and even snow would have been just as likely in February 1887 as rain.

    If you like, I’ll have a look at the Swindon Advertiser’s archives for February 1887 (which isn’t online) to see what comes up (it was a monthly paper then, but now it’s daily).

    Cheers,

    Graham Carter
    http://www.grahamcarter.net

  9. Graham,

    Thank you for commenting! I am beyond excited that you stopped by and took the time to respond to my plight. If it wouldn’t take too much of your time, then yes, I would greatly appreciate your looking up February 1887 in the Swindon area. Also, is there a place I can look to know the weather patterns for August 1887, or is that also not online?

    I have to admit that Compton Beauchamp is the actual setting of my book but as I mentioned, there isn’t a lot of information about the specific town. Is CB considered in the area of Swindon, or would it associate with a different town more than Swindon?

    Thanks again, you have no idea how you just made my month!

  10. Graham,

    Thank you for commenting! I am beyond excited that you stopped by and took the time to respond to my plight. If it wouldn't take too much of your time, then yes, I would greatly appreciate your looking up February 1887 in the Swindon area. Also, is there a place I can look to know the weather patterns for August 1887, or is that also not online?

    I have to admit that Compton Beauchamp is the actual setting of my book but as I mentioned, there isn't a lot of information about the specific town. Is CB considered in the area of Swindon, or would it associate with a different town more than Swindon?

    Thanks again, you have no idea how you just made my month!

  11. Belinda,

    I’m glad to be of help to a fellow writer and also quite intrigued. Not only was I surprised to stumble on a site that was talking about places and even an era I knew something about, but the more I read, the more spooky coincidences have turned up…

    I don’t read much fiction and certainly never historical romantic fiction, but I am the webmaster of the official site of a major historical romantic novelist.

    She is Sergeanne (real name Anne) Golon who is French and was very popular in the 1950s and 1960s because of her series of novels about a heroine called Angelique. They were translated into dozens of languages but were generally marketed with gaudy covers that made them look like throwaway romantic stuff, so they are a bit forgotten these days, even though the historical detail is amazing.

    I was introduced to them by a friend, and I ended up designing and partly writing the website as a favour to him, so I also read some of the books and even met the author in Paris (she’s still alive now). The really bizarre thing about all this is that this friend who introduced me to the Angelique books has lived in Sydney all the time I’ve known him but he grew up in… wait for it… Wantage.

    Anyway, I would strongly suggest you read at least one or two Angelique books as they seem close to your genre. The first one, Marquise of the Angels, is very well written, and the second, The Road to Versailles, is even better because it has wonderfully vivid descriptions of the Paris lowlife. There are 13 in the series. See http://www.worldofangelique.com.

    You should also read some Thomas Hardy because CB/Swindon is on the edge of Wessex, where his novels are set, and they are very descriptive about rural life in 19th century Britain. From memory, I think they were written around the 1880s, although they are sometimes set a few decades earlier, I think. Under the Greenwood Tree is one of the most beautifully written books you could ever read and The Mayor Casterbridge, my favourite, has a better story and strong characters.

    As for CB, you could hardly have chosen a more obscure and anonymous place in England to set your WIP. I’ve lived 10 or 12 miles from it all my life and never been there. I even had to look on the map to remind myself where it is, and all I know about it is Beauchamp is pronounced ‘Beechum’. I have naturally been to the White Horse, though, and there is a panoramic picture of it (or rather from it) on my website, with CB in the far distance (see http://www.grahamcarter.net and then follow ‘pictures’ and ‘panoramas’).

    As regards the weather, I had a quick look at the Swindon Advertisers for 1887 (in my previous post I was wrong – they were weekly, not monthly) and found no references to any severe weather. However, three reports of rugby matches on three separate dates said it was bright and clear but (in one case) windy.

    I think the point here is that unless you want to be super-accurate, you can get away with many scenarios when it comes to British weather as it’s changeable and unpredictable. I’ll have a look at August too, which is likely to be fairly warm, possibly with some rain and the outside chance of a thunderstorm (if you need one!)

    There are probably a lot of ways I could help and I don’t mind helping where I can (any excuse to look through old newspapers, which are always fascinating). I think I can make some useful observations about the first page of your WIP, for instance.

    Do you want me to post here or contact me by email (which you can find on http://www.grahamcarter.net)? I don’t want to fill up your discussion area.

    In return, you may find yourself being the subject of an article in the Swindon Advertiser! And one day soon I may need somebody to help read the draft of the (non-fiction) book I’ve half written.

    Cheers,

    Graham Carter

  12. Belinda,

    I'm glad to be of help to a fellow writer and also quite intrigued. Not only was I surprised to stumble on a site that was talking about places and even an era I knew something about, but the more I read, the more spooky coincidences have turned up…

    I don't read much fiction and certainly never historical romantic fiction, but I am the webmaster of the official site of a major historical romantic novelist.

    She is Sergeanne (real name Anne) Golon who is French and was very popular in the 1950s and 1960s because of her series of novels about a heroine called Angelique. They were translated into dozens of languages but were generally marketed with gaudy covers that made them look like throwaway romantic stuff, so they are a bit forgotten these days, even though the historical detail is amazing.

    I was introduced to them by a friend, and I ended up designing and partly writing the website as a favour to him, so I also read some of the books and even met the author in Paris (she's still alive now). The really bizarre thing about all this is that this friend who introduced me to the Angelique books has lived in Sydney all the time I've known him but he grew up in… wait for it… Wantage.

    Anyway, I would strongly suggest you read at least one or two Angelique books as they seem close to your genre. The first one, Marquise of the Angels, is very well written, and the second, The Road to Versailles, is even better because it has wonderfully vivid descriptions of the Paris lowlife. There are 13 in the series. See http://www.worldofangelique.com.

    You should also read some Thomas Hardy because CB/Swindon is on the edge of Wessex, where his novels are set, and they are very descriptive about rural life in 19th century Britain. From memory, I think they were written around the 1880s, although they are sometimes set a few decades earlier, I think. Under the Greenwood Tree is one of the most beautifully written books you could ever read and The Mayor Casterbridge, my favourite, has a better story and strong characters.

    As for CB, you could hardly have chosen a more obscure and anonymous place in England to set your WIP. I've lived 10 or 12 miles from it all my life and never been there. I even had to look on the map to remind myself where it is, and all I know about it is Beauchamp is pronounced 'Beechum'. I have naturally been to the White Horse, though, and there is a panoramic picture of it (or rather from it) on my website, with CB in the far distance (see http://www.grahamcarter.net and then follow 'pictures' and 'panoramas').

    As regards the weather, I had a quick look at the Swindon Advertisers for 1887 (in my previous post I was wrong – they were weekly, not monthly) and found no references to any severe weather. However, three reports of rugby matches on three separate dates said it was bright and clear but (in one case) windy.

    I think the point here is that unless you want to be super-accurate, you can get away with many scenarios when it comes to British weather as it's changeable and unpredictable. I'll have a look at August too, which is likely to be fairly warm, possibly with some rain and the outside chance of a thunderstorm (if you need one!)

    There are probably a lot of ways I could help and I don't mind helping where I can (any excuse to look through old newspapers, which are always fascinating). I think I can make some useful observations about the first page of your WIP, for instance.

    Do you want me to post here or contact me by email (which you can find on http://www.grahamcarter.net)? I don't want to fill up your discussion area.

    In return, you may find yourself being the subject of an article in the Swindon Advertiser! And one day soon I may need somebody to help read the draft of the (non-fiction) book I've half written.

    Cheers,

    Graham Carter

  13. Graham,

    Prepare yourself for another coincidence (I read your blog post today and was highly amused): I am also writing under a pseudonym. In fact, Worderella is my pseudonym’s online pseudonym. I’m a little recursive, as it were.

    I’ve just added Sergeanne to my reading list, and visited your website and read all about the mix-up about the author name for Anne’s books. Thomas Hardy’s on the list too, I’m very excited about all this! I don’t know if you’ve heard of Wishbone, but they had an episode on The Mayor of Casterbridge, and I always meant to read it but never did.

    Now here’s the really crazy thing: I was originally going to set my novel in Wantage! But I decided against it…I wanted a really obscure location and leave my character in the smallest city I could find so people didn’t know what happened to her. I’m glad you mentioned the pronunciation of CB, because I’d read about it and wondered whether it was true. I actually managed to find a lot of information about CB thanks to old maps of England (from 1884) and websites such as David Nash Ford’s Berkshire History.

    I’ll make sure to contact you by e-mail; I didn’t realize I never put a contact link on the blog so that’s up now. I would love it if you read the first pages of my WIP, and even more so if I got to read yours!

  14. Graham,

    Prepare yourself for another coincidence (I read your blog post today and was highly amused): I am also writing under a pseudonym. In fact, Worderella is my pseudonym's online pseudonym. I'm a little recursive, as it were.

    I've just added Sergeanne to my reading list, and visited your website and read all about the mix-up about the author name for Anne's books. Thomas Hardy's on the list too, I'm very excited about all this! I don't know if you've heard of Wishbone, but they had an episode on The Mayor of Casterbridge, and I always meant to read it but never did.

    Now here's the really crazy thing: I was originally going to set my novel in Wantage! But I decided against it…I wanted a really obscure location and leave my character in the smallest city I could find so people didn't know what happened to her. I'm glad you mentioned the pronunciation of CB, because I'd read about it and wondered whether it was true. I actually managed to find a lot of information about CB thanks to old maps of England (from 1884) and websites such as David Nash Ford's Berkshire History.

    I'll make sure to contact you by e-mail; I didn't realize I never put a contact link on the blog so that's up now. I would love it if you read the first pages of my WIP, and even more so if I got to read yours!

  15. The Mayor of Casterbridge is definitely worth a read – and because it was originally serialised, it’s never dull. I remember my history teacher at school telling me he cried when he got to the climax of the story.

    The main incident at the start of the book and a weird episode in the middle were based on real incidents, which Hardy had read about.

    Wantage has literary connections because Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate (sort of the monarch’s official poet), lived there in the 1950s or 60s.

    Cheers,

    Graham

    PS I’ve seen Wishbone. Our kids used to like him, but he wasn’t on for long, and now he’s not on any of the zillions of channels we can get on cable, which is a shame.

  16. The Mayor of Casterbridge is definitely worth a read – and because it was originally serialised, it's never dull. I remember my history teacher at school telling me he cried when he got to the climax of the story.

    The main incident at the start of the book and a weird episode in the middle were based on real incidents, which Hardy had read about.

    Wantage has literary connections because Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate (sort of the monarch's official poet), lived there in the 1950s or 60s.

    Cheers,

    Graham

    PS I've seen Wishbone. Our kids used to like him, but he wasn't on for long, and now he's not on any of the zillions of channels we can get on cable, which is a shame.



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