No book review today as I’ve been slacking off a bit and working on my own books. Normal service will resume next week when I will have not one, but TWO reviews for you! Instead, here’s a list of twenty signs that you are writing historical fiction…
1. You gleefully claim trips to Paris and Rome on your tax return. And also London and Bath too. Oh wait, could I write a book set in Saint Petersburg or New York as well?
2. You start referring to skirts in the plural as in ‘skirts’ instead of a ‘skirt’, thus indicating that the skirt you are writing about is BIGGER than any old plain common garden skirt. Ho yes.
3. You have a framed photograph of Georgette Heyer somewhere in your house. It may even have candles and flowers around it and a burnt offering of a copy of Venetia. No wait, that would mean BURNING a copy of Venetia and that’s SACRILEGE so instead I will name one of my sons after two of her characters. And then presumably never tell him this fact…
4. When people say that the weather is 18C, you immediately think they mean the weather is reminiscent of that in the 18th century and get sympathetic palpitations.
5. Your Google history is full of terms like ‘Rupert Penry Jones Regency Jane Austen hot’, ‘Aidan Turner sexy pout Dante Gabriel Rossetti’ and ‘Tom Hardy Marie Antoinette wig cor I would’. This is all for RESEARCH PURPOSES.
6. You spend a lot of time wondering what ratafia, calf brain fritters and roast peacock tastes like. Too much time in fact. If you are a vegetarian like me you may even find yourself becoming excessively angsty about the vast amounts of roast flesh that your characters are clearly yearning to eat and wishing that they ate more salad in Georgian times. Meanwhile, your family are beginning to live in fear of your culinary experiments.
7. Every time someone insults you, you find yourself wishing that you could challenge them to a duel. You even know whom you would have as your seconds. You may even also have an outfit picked out.
8. Your iTunes account is littered with playlists called things like ‘Dead Victorian Girl’, ’18th Century Snogging Scene’ and, obscurely, ‘Guillotine time’.
9. You start to think that powdered hair is actually quite becoming and also get a bit heavy handed with blusher, which by now you are calling ‘rouge’.
10. You eye your husband with disapproval and wonder what he would look like in a nice white linen shirt, breeches and tall boots rather than a geeky T shirt, jeans and skater trainers combination. You may even badger him into growing his hair a bit and, oh why not, cultivating a bit of stubble. Oh and could you put a pirate hat on and ‘grin fiendishly, your strong white teeth gleaming against your tanned skin’ while you are at it? Thanks.
11. When writing about Victorian London, you may, in sympathy with your characters find yourself using rhyming slang and affecting a Cockney accent to the perturbation of all who know you. I have never done this. Obviously. *ahem*
12. You develop terrible and unseemly crushes on the Dead People that you are writing about such as, oh I don’t know, Charles II maybe? Just pulling that name out of thin air, of course. *ahem* We all know that Hilary Mantel has a serious thing for Thomas Cromwell. This crush leads you to search for loads of pictures of said person and get a bit critical of their mistresses. ‘I don’t know what he saw in that fat floozy Lucy Walters anyway…’
13. You convince yourself that you write all your best work while wearing a long flowing dress. Eventually this leads you onto re-enactment and cosplay sites where you debate for hours about buying replica Marie Antoinette style gowns or Victorian hats, convinced that your writing would become AMAZING if you wore one while sitting staring into space in front of your laptop.
14. You join re-enactment societies in the hope that they will help you experience what life was REALLY like in the period that you are writing about. All it really teaches you is that it’s not a good idea to get in the way of a pike block; cannon fire smells of rotten eggs; you don’t actually like folk music and falling down dead is a great way of sleeping off a hangover.
15. You find yourself envying chick lit writers and the way they can blithely just write away without having to stop every five seconds to check facts in the mountain of history books that wobble precariously around your laptop.
16. When you read a book set in the 20th or 21st centuries you get COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY by the plot potential of having stuff like um telephones and wow, crikey, CARS rather than letters, pigeons, surly messengers, carriages and horses.
17. If you are traditionally published you may feel a pang of annoyance that you spent ages letting all of your readers know that your heroine is a creamy skinned, hazel eyed redhead only for the cover to cut her head off altogether.
18. You often think that life would be a lot easier for your heroines if they had access to Lush bath bombs, really good chocolate and Vogue magazine.
19. You try not to think about the fact that your characters probably really really REALLY smell but every so often the thought intrudes and you have to go and have a very long shower on their behalf. Also, while writing sex scenes you occasionally become distracted by the fact that your heroine has almost certainly never shaved her legs or armpits and are not quite sure what to do with this information – ‘he stroked her silky pelt’? BRAIN BLEACH.
20. If you are writing a book set during the Ripper murders of 1888 you may find yourself spending rather more time than you would wish hanging about the TRUE CRIME section of the book shop. You may even find yourself looking at books called things like ‘Hard Bastards’ and ‘More Hard Bastards: Harder And More Bastardy Than Ever’.
What would you add to the list? I haven’t touched on things like writing your own ancestors no matter how dull into your plots; having to put up with your husband looking over your shoulder and complaining that ‘You never let ME do that’ when you are writing sex scenes; finding yourself writing more death scenes in one book than Sean Bean has had in his entire career and the dawning realisation that all of your books fall under the category of ‘Posh Doom’…