Saturday, February 21, 2015

Comments on Research, History, and Writing

Notes from Kathy on a very cold Saturday morning in Kentucky: 

Old Williamsburg
I love history and with that comes a curiosity to find answers to intriguing questions. The hours slip away as I dig through haystacks for specific information to add a bit of detail to a scene. 

My passion was informed by studying Virginia history as an elementary student. How could I not fall in love with such a rich history—Williamsburg, Yorktown, John Smith and Pocahontas, Jamestown? As a young adult, James Michener fueled the passion when I read The Source, Hawaii, Centennial, The Fires of Spring, and others.

Researching the historical record for a story is time consuming and takes away from putting words on a page, but when I read comments from readers like the ones below, it makes every extra minute I spend digging through notes and journals and old books worthwhile:

“It's not often you get hold of such a good book with well thought out characters. It definitely makes you take another look at the history of the Civil War. It's easy to say how terrible war is, but to look through the eyes of someone seeing it with all their senses is a stark reminder of that time. The characters may be fictional, however, I think the telling of this rendition of the War was probably closer to fact than fiction.”

“I am a history fanatic, so I loved it. I even had to google the exact date of Lincoln's assassination to make sure the hero's had enough time to make things right.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed both The Ruby Brooch and The Sapphire Brooch, although the Sapphire Brooch was difficult to read at times because of the realistic portrayal and descriptions of the Civil War conditions. But it made the book "real" - in spite of the time travel. Highly recommend both her books, and looking forward to the 3rd in the series.”

Yesterday, I was researching Bletchley Park, specifically Hut 8, for a scene in The Emerald Brooch. The Hut moved to Block D, but kept the name Hut 8. Probably made sense at the time, but looking at the layout (on-line) seventy years later the logistics became confusing.

My muse raised an interesting question (that's why there are no writing and marketing links below), and I googled Alan Turing and Rubik's Cube. The cube was invented in 1974. Turing died in 1954. What were the odds of finding both in the same sentence?

Pretty good actually. I do love to research!

I stumbled upon a professor of computer science at Berkeley who wrote a presentation that included my keywords: Turing and Rubik's Cube. I sent him an email asking how long he thought it would have taken Turing to solve the puzzle. He wrote back to let me know what he thought. He also copied another professor who he said was "Turing's biggest fan" to get his opinion. The other professor wrote back with his answer. You'll have to wait until The Emerald Brooch comes out to find out what they said, which was fascinating. The embarrassing part of this story is that in all the emails, I spelled Turing's name with an N instead of an R.  

Words on the paper. That’s all I’m doing right now. The sloppy writing will be cleaned up with the spring thaw and by then I will know for sure how to spell Alan Turing’s name. When I wrote The Ruby Brooch, I was still working as a paralegal. Every time I typed Oregon Trail, I typed Oregon Trial. Oh, well...

I’m off to Hut 8 now for another exciting day in World War II. 

Happy writing and running, Kathy 

Go Cats!
Kentucky Wildcats
26-0, 1st in Southeastern
Today, 7:00 PM on ESPN, ESP3
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky

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