SCOTTISH PARANORMAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Since I write Scottish historicals with paranormal elements, my stories may incorporate both the past and present and thus my resources vary. My favorite resources are:
- Family members living within/near ancestral homes in Scotland and Ireland who can share anecdotes that have been passed down over the centuries. Villagers who have share the land for generations and have tales of their own.
- People like noted historians John Frayler of the Salem Maritime Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, author of the non-fictions Pickled Fish and Salted Provisions and The Friendship and Brian Peach, retired of HMS Cutty Sark, Greenwich, England who don’t mind the occasional panicked phone call or email asking them to “proof” something. (John walked me through the armaments on a 1797 privateer for The Dragon’s Legacy and Brian has sent me rigging blue prints and sample dialogue for setting sail on a three-masted ship for A Thief in A Kilt.)
- Wonderful people like High Priestess Sandra Mariah Power of Salem, Massachusetts who shared a bit of her life and Craft with me for A Highlander For Christmas. Police Officers F. McElligott (drug-related crime/under cover activity) Capt. Brockman (task force) and B. Chaney (crimes against persons/sexul assaults) And then there are local physicians, firefighters, and FBI contacts. And one of my all time favorites, a charming gentleman with a handsome handle bar mustache, who has spent the better part of the last thirty years working in places like Moscow, East Berlin, Iran, and Libya as a “freezer maintenance man.” He’s a funny, astute charismatic guy with an impressive collection weapons...for hunting. Please note the stuffed deer and turkey over his head. (Ya, right. I nod and continue with my questions regarding the listening bugs found in the US Embassy walls in Moscow.) Meanwhile his equally charming wife has raised a rowdy brood pretty much on her own. Although she has lived in Europe with him when the children were fewer and smaller, for years now she has had to make do with meeting him 3-4 times a year in Berlin (usually)--and not once in the thirty odd years that I’ve known her have I heard her complain. (She’s truly amazing...the stuff of heroines.)
- Diaries are great sources of period minutia. Temperature, snow fall, the outrageous cost of eggs, coal, or wood that week. Who is sick and of what, recommended treatments and who did what to whom in the neighborhood, etc, Ignore the spelling and just lap up these rich, often funny and/or poignant stories. Contact your local—or area of interest—genealogical society. They’re a wonderful resource.
- Scottish histories like Scottish Historical Documents by Professor Gordon Donaldson, ISBN 1-897784-41-4 and A History of Scotland by J.D. Mackie, ISBN: 0-88029-040-4
Trying to trace a family line? Try The Surnames of Scotland by George F. Black ISBN 1-874744-83-1 The book is 838 pages of fine print and expensive but handy to have.
The Auld Scots Dictionary, the Gael-English, English-Gael Dictionary, and Colloquial Scottish Gaelic are great language texts.
- Online: www.home.insightbb.com/%7Ed.Lawson
for Deb’s Historical Research Page. For parks, addies, buildings www.Georgianindex.net/London/London.htmlbook For some photos and history www.bbc.co.uk/history/Scottishhisotry/earlychurch For Gaelic lessons www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/ionnsachadh
WHEN WRITING HISTORICALS:
- Research! But incorporate only that which your characters need to know/do to move the plot and their growth arcs forward. Historicals writers and readers alike love rich detail but when writing a Romance, never lose sight of the romance.
- You may make a mistake by incorporating a word or item that isn’t true to the period no matter how careful you and your copy editor are and you may hear from a reader(s) that you made a mistake. Don’t fret about it. Acknowledge it, thank them, and then go on.
- Each time period and region had its own morals, religious activity and politics, which should influence/be reflected in your characters’ goals, motivation and actions. If your story can be picked up and placed in a contemporary setting without missing a beat, something is wrong.
- Writing Suspense? Sign up for a local citizens police academy — often free or low cost--where you’ll learn a great deal and become familiar with local law enforcement officers, who’ll now gladly help you with those pesky plotting and forensic problems. Same with the firefighters. Regional FBI offices have a Community Liaison, who can answer questions.
- Need info on medical forensic tests/autopsy/etc? Ask your family doctor for the name of the local hospital pathologist. Get to know the people who can help you, and always thank them in your acknowledgment page.
- Need something out of the ordinary for a love scene and drawing a blank? Contact your randy single friends or your erotic author friends. I have three I can always depend on to come up with something exotic that will make me blush.
- No matter where you go, no matter what you’re writing, collection maps and travel/sightseeing brochures. Two years from now when a story idea hits, you won’t remember the name of the streets bordering a specific park, etc. Having the maps and brochures will save you hours of Googling as you build the story.
- The minute you sign a contract get your web site up and get a PO Box.
- Remember that contest critiques are like rejection letters; be they good ones or bad, they’re only one person’s opinion. The same holds true for reviews.
- *To paraphrase a great Russian, don’t tell us lightening flashed, show us light bouncing off a broken pane, arcing through the clouds.
Sandy Blair -- A WALDENBOOKS BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
A THIEF IN A KILT--Zebra, Available now! CAPA Reviewers Award for Best Historical
A ROGUE IN A KILT
A MAN IN A KILT--2005 RITA finalist, National Readers Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance
A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS--Zebra, coming OCT 2, 2007