wavy navy and other novel research

Thanks to all of you who popped by from Nicola’s coffee morning over at: http://www.helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/

I hope you come back often!

As some of you know I’m busy writing novel 2 (aka Fred – doesn’t have a title yet so I’m calling her Fred). Like Mr R, Fred is a historical novel, as in she’s set in the late 1930s/ early 1940s. This of course involves a fair bit of research. The odd thing is that my background is as an academic  – I’m trying to finish a PhD in eighteenth-century poetry – but I research my novels very differently. I confess that it’s a bit more haphazard. I start by reading books, first person accounts of the time, but once I’ve caught my scent of a story, I’m off writing like basset hound after the whiff of fox.

I keep reading constantly as I write – at the moment every 30s novel from Persephone books that I can lay my hands on. And, I’m careful to avoid anachronisms (some will creep in and then have to be fiercely edited out) and when I come to parts in the story which needs meticulous research, I force myself to stop, and spend a week or so reading. I’m doing this at the moment – reading everything I can find about the temporary naval officers in the R.N.V.R. during WW2 (aka the wavy navy – so named because of the wavy stripes on their sleeves). And I’ve some tasty recollections of farming in the 30s that I’m itching to start…and the accounts of the country house at war and those 30s poetry collections…

I’m aware that other writers spend months or even years researching before the even consider writing, while I do everything all at once, in a spinning whirl of chaos and excitement that leads to mild madness and insomnia. But, I do think that it’s a case of whatever works for you. As long as you remember that during the 1940s all ladies stockings slipped down, as the elastic had gone orf to war.

But how do you research your writing?

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2 Comments

Filed under Book 2 - Tyneford Project, from summerhouse to summer read, writer pontification

2 responses to “wavy navy and other novel research

  1. I love doing research. Some of my stuff is historical too – well, steampunk, so kind of historical – and I’ve been having a fantastic time researching the period. Makes a big change from my day job as boffin!!

  2. natashasolomons

    It is fun isn’t it? I love steam punk – Mr S is a huge fan. I so enjoy researching stuff that is slightly out of my usual sphere…

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