Friday, August 15, 2014

Bodice-Rippers, Yes, But Historically Correct.

I suck at selfies.

My husband and son came home from a trip last night laughing over my new profile photo. I told them it was the best I could do, that I'd taken five different photos and the one I used was by far the best. They seemed to think this made it even funnier.

Of course I'm not smiling. I was trying to be serious. But still. There are some things about the modern world that I just don't get, and selfies, it seems, are one of them.

Also tattoos, and those earrings that leave giant holes in your ears. Also Instagram. And after all this time, I still haven't gotten my head around Pintrest. Snapchats? My kids get those, but can't tell me why.

When I write historical fiction, which is often, I don't like to start writing until I understand the setting well enough that I can walk my character through a typical day without having to look stuff up. I want to know where she sleeps, how she wakes up (alarm clock? rooster? church bells?), what she wears, what she eats and who cooks it and how--all that. I don't want to sit and think about whether or not she wears underwear (only post 1830) or takes a school bus (hello, 1920s) or puts sugar in her tea. (Is there rationing? Is she rich? What century are we in?)  It makes me cross-eyed crazy when other writers get these details wrong. I've been known to throw novels across the room, and nobody but me enjoys my rants at book clubs. (It's gotten so that some of my friends look historical details up on Google before book club, just so they can argue back.) (Which is awesome.) There's a reason most of my novels are set in the past. I live more comfortably there.

I'm writing about a Very Serious Topic now. It's part of my Special Secret Project that I am still not under liberty to reveal. But it's hell to be researching a Very Serious Topic in the same week that Robin Williams and Michael Brown died. My heart's not in it, and my sleep is still suffering.

Yesterday I took matters into my own hands. When the Books-A-Million in Kingsport didn't have any of the Very Serious Books I needed for my research, I bought a volume called Vixen in Velvet instead. The police in Ferguson have undergone a change of personnel and heart, Times Square shut down, people are listening, and I am reading historically accurate smut. I feel better now.