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Postcard Thirteen - Leicester

The postcards are coming thick and fast at the moment and I'm finding it difficult to decide what to blog about for each one. I'm still listening to Hamnet so can't do a final review of that yet and I started wondering what the subject of this post could be. When the postcards drop into my email inbox, they are accompanied by some information about the town they've been 'sent' from and Leicester's email was filled with information about Richard III.

My first thought was to re-read The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters, but I don't have a copy any more, it's not available on Kindle and ordering one would have taken far too long to arrive. However, it did get me thinking about historical fiction.

This is a topic that is occupying rather a lot of my thinking at the moment, whilst I write my second novel for adults. The first, although having two distinct storylines, was all set in relatively modern times and for the part set in the past I was able to use my knowledge and that of friends who also lived through those times and so the research needed was relatively minimal. However, the current novel has three distinct plots - one is modern, one is Victorian and one is set in the 1940s.

Now - I love history and I like to think I have a decent knowledge of general events in both these time periods. I also know the places they are set reasonably well. Nothing I am writing about requires any specialist or technical knowledge and yet...

I am having to do an inordinate amount of research that I hadn't expected to need - things like 'When was electricity installed in the Theatre Royal?' (if you know the answer to this PLEASE tell me, otherwise I may have to resort to writing to the theatre!) 'What kinds of aircraft flew from the RAF base in Blackpool?' (did you know there were actually two bases?) 'Where would opera have been performed in London in September 1884?' (did you know the Royal Opera House went bankrupt and closed earlier that year?) 'When did the New York "400" come into existence?' (later than I thought) 'Who were the early performers at the original New York Met?' (the first female star was Swedish!) and 'Did ENSA performers do performances in the UK and if so, where? What were the rules?'

This is only a handful of the questions I've been trying (and sometimes failing) to find the answers for. James has temporarily lifted my book buying ban as some of the books I need (where the internet has failed to produce an answer) are so specialised that the library doesn't stock them. Under normal circumstances I would have despatched my mum or gone myself to the local libraries in Blackpool to see if any of them were there, but COVID and all that...

Anyway, my point is, that historical fiction of any kind requires much more research than I had imagined, even when you're not writing about anything specific! My 'to read' pile never seems to grow any smaller and I've almost forgotten what it's like to simply read for pleasure. At the end of most days, my brain hurts! Ah well... NaNoWriMo comes to an end tomorrow and I'm on course to hit 70,000 words for the month which is beyond even my wildest imaginings, so I must be doing something right! Just 20-30,000 words to go before Christmas and then I can take a breath before I start the next one. That one might involve a repeat trip to Cornwall, which would be SUCH a shame....

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