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Friday, November 18, 2011

Latest on the Dog - bookshops!

 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 used.
File 4878
 (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 the author.
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 day.
Now excuse me, I’m going back to bed to read about food in Shakespeare’s London.

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