Monday, July 9, 2012

My Research Process

Illustration from Cassell's History of England - Century Edition - published circa 1902, Scan by Tagishsimon, 23rd June 2004
I started my research by seeking a time period with a “problem” I could use as a backdrop. It wasn’t long before I found one that intrigued me. In the late 1200’s A.D., King Edward I placed high taxes on exported goods, especially effecting wool, England’s main generator of capital. These actions lead some people to smuggle their wares to improve profits. I set my stage with this historical happening and fashioned characters that challenged the smuggling world with passion and bravery as they struggled to overcome personal challenges as well.

I spent weeks at a time researching the history, monarchy, titles, wars, clothing, weapons, castles, towns, speech, food, customs and basic beliefs of England in 1300 A.D., but I don’t claim to be an expert on the medieval world. I really only learned things pertaining to my story. My novel is not a “historical” where everything is absolutely historically correct, it is a “medieval fiction,” a made up story with a historical backdrop. In fact, my first draft utilized the formal and informal language of England’s past, but my critics reported that it was hard to read, that it didn’t flow well because they weren’t used to it in today’s world (history and medieval fair enthusiasts aside *smile*). So I dropped the old tongue for more current speech, but speckled it with medieval terms to retain the ancient aura. Though I tried to remain true to 1300’s customs, I added a modern perspective to my characters’ views in order to relate to the contemporary reader. I’ve hopefully achieved a happy medium.

The ensuing story, Shadows of Valor, grew ripe with adventure, deception, mystery, danger and love. And as songs played an integral part in the daily lives of medieval society, I also incorporated three original ballads complete with sheet music into the story. The release date for Shadowsof Valor is July 27, 2013.

References I found helpful in my research:


  1. Oh goodie, links too! I do love all things medieval, it seems. Can't wait to check out a few of the resources you've mentioned.

    I understand wanting to keep the speech and such authentic to the period, but also understand your critics' perspective of readability. Balance is everything. I also can't wait to check out the book when it's released!

  2. I'm so looking forward to reading this!

    1. Thanks, Joyce! Being you're a student of medieval history (with WAY more knowledge than I have), I'd love your opinion of it :)