Goodness, I had forgotten how slow it is writing historical fiction when you’re not already immersed in the time, place and characters. After six Sam Plank books I was spoilt: I could hear his voice, I knew how his home and workplace and surroundings looked, sounded and smelled, and I had his entire history at my fingertips. But with Gregory, heavens, what a difference! I’m back to that painstaking sort of writing where every tiny comment needs checking. He was an ostler – so what did an ostler wear? Where did he live? (Usually in an ostry, thanks for asking.) In chapter two he walks from his workplace – the Hoop Inn – to visit a friend in Castle End, which meant he had to walk across what we now call Magdalene Bridge. But in those days it was Great Bridge, and it was often collapsing thanks to poor maintenance, so was there scaffolding? A toll-booth? Would it have been busy at that time of day? Sooooo many questions.
I am now back to my old habit (from the early days of Sam) of trying to keep the flow of the writing, such as it is, and not stopping to check details as I go but instead putting uncertainties in [[double square brackets]] for revisiting. Chapter [[two]] now looks [[quite a bit]] [[like this]].
On an entirely cheerier and more positive note, I watched an excellent Society of Authors interview with Tracy Chevalier (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”, “A Single Thread”, etc.). She’s an American living in London and just the most warm and encouraging person – I recommend the interview (and you’ll learn lots about her writing process).
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