Posted on Insideadog this morning - enjoy!
I woke up this morning listening to the rain on the roof, one of my
favourite sounds. That’s the time when I make up stories in my head for
later. Right now, I’m trying to think up a story for a science fiction
and fantasy anthology about how things started. I don’t know much about
it yet except it’s going to be something about the Trojan War and begin
with, “It started with that stupid wedding invitation. The one I didn’t
get…” and be seen from the viewpoint of Eris, goddess of trouble.
At some point I’m going to hit the discount and second hand bookshops
to see what I can find to help. I already have plenty, but you never
know and any excuse will do. I just love the kind of shop where you can
find books on everything from chocolate to gladiators and what they
ate in London in Shakespeare’s time, along with recipes. I found most
of my folklore collection in a second-hand bookshop in the middle of
Melbourne. It came in handy for my research for Wolfborn and I
was interested to find out that Melissa Marr, author of the Wicked
Lovely series, found her fairy information in a lot of the same books I
(Not my shelves - I'm not at home to take the pic. But these shelves also belong to a writer...)
Between book commissions, I just like to read non-fiction, any
non-fiction that looks good. You never know when information will come
in handy. Like that history of the Roman games I found in a discount
bookshop last summer. Did you know that executions happened at
lunchtime, between the real entertainments? While Christians faced the
lions, in the stands above people were digging in their picnic baskets
for the last of the olives, wondering if they should go to the lavatory
or the hot food stands and risk losing their seats. And if you think
fast food began with Macca’s and the Colonel, forget it! Most Romans
lived in flats. The cooking facilities were pretty much non-existent and
dangerous anyway, because the buildings were wooden, so they’d go to
their favourite cook shop and buy dinner there.
Will I be writing a book set in ancient Rome? Who knows? Who cares?
I’ve just found a biography of Nicholas Culpeper, a seventeenth
century guy who wrote a book about herbs (I have it somewhere on my
crowded shelves). Herbs are important to someone like me, writing
mediaeval fantasy. So I keep it on my shelves for when I need to know
the properties of a particular herb or what they might have used to
treat a wound before modern medicine. Meanwhile, it’s nice to know about
There’s lots of great stuff out there, but buying it on-line or
ordering it for your e-reader means you have to have some idea what you
want. Bookshops mean you can browse and discount and second-hand
bookshops have a wider variety than regular ones.
Libraries are great too. I found some wonderful craft books in my
school library that no one had read in years and got to take them home. I
now have a book or two on weaving, something I may need to know one
Now excuse me, I’m going back to bed to read about food in Shakespeare’s London.