Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Learning to Live with a Barbarian

I thought I was a Regency author, faithful and content - but then I got seduced, and by Terry Jones of all people, not possibly the first name who springs to mind when contemplating infidelity, nice and witty though he is.
I was watching his BBC2 series, The Barbarians, and the picture of nice Roman girl meets huge hairy Barbarian flashed though my mind and that was it, I was hooked by the Visigoths.
It has been a strange experience, creating Wulfric. At first I buried myself in reference books until I remembered the important thing was the love story and to write that first and check up on the historical accuracy as I went along (although I can't escape the maps and the atlases which carpet my study floor).
Not all the research is pleasurable academic delving of course. There is the effort of forcing myself to skim through Lord of the Rings looking at Aragorn for inspiration for long-haired heroes. Oh yes, and I'm dragging myself off to go and see Casino Royale to study the honed male torso, but difficult though this is, one has a duty to one's readers.
Once I have finished with Wulfric it is back to the Regency, although all those research books seem a bit of a waste for just one title, perhaps Mr Jones will lead me astray in the future.

Louise Allen


Jane O said...

Research sounds pure torture -I hate to add to the torment but I wondered if you have seen the pictures of Gerard Butler with long hair in Beowulf-or indeed any images of him which are googled very easily. I hope this helps.

Kate Allan said...

Casino Royale was good, if a bit on the violent side for me. But I know what you mean. I might defect at some point to writing Anglo-Saxon set fiction. Probably have another 20 Regency novels to get out of me first though... :)

Melinda Hammond said...

I agree, Louise, researching long-haired warrior types is an awful chore! I have fond memories of Hereward the Wake......

Chap O'Keefe said...

The problem with research isn't that it's torture but that it gets increasingly seductive as you delve deeper. Being a mere male, what I have in mind isn't Terry Jones or a hairy barbarian. My Hale western writing colleague Keith Hetherington emailed me from Australia the other day: "Got a bit diverted: started researching Sharps falling-block actions
for current western Once a Ranger and ricocheted into the life of the Plains Indians, Civil War, Berdan's Sharpshooters, buffalo hunting and so on. Once I started I found it too fascinating to stop. Won't use much of it in story but the knowledge is now tucked away for future reference." Like Louise Allen says, you have to remember the story is the important thing, and take care how you allocate your time. For the western I completed a few weeks ago, Misfit Lil Hides Out, I learned about burrowing owls, Gatling guns, balanced boulders, Utah Canyonlands, pictographs by Puebloan Indians, and a ton of other uselessly fascinating stuff I'll probably forget quickly enough. Half of it -- no, probably more than that -- I didn't use. The best part is that with Google research is so much easier than when I relied heavily on the Reader's Encyclopedia of the American West. Much more significant to Misfit Lil Hides Out than the research was that Lil is framed for murder. As always, resourceful Lil makes some ingenious plays and produces the necessary answers with a flourish at the end!