Please welcome Bestselling Author Sherry Gloag! The moment I read about Napoleonic War-era espionage in the back cover of her historical romance, VIDAL’S HONOR, I knew I had to hear more! Thanks for being here today, Sherry!
Details…details… it’s all in the details. And if, any writer doesn’t think that’s important, then think again. It won’t matter what subject you write about, what occupation you give to your characters, or what settings you put them in, someone out there is going to know more about the subject than you do.
And they could be one of your readers.
If you’re writing contemporary, you can go online and have fun searching through all the sites that touch on the information you need. There are people around you can talk to, online and physically.
But what if you are writing about the past? Yes, you can go online, and yes there are likely to be lots of sites you can troll through. But… which facts are correct? And how do you make sure you catch the right ones?
In Vidal’s Honor, the heroine is camped outside Salamanca, Spain, in July 1812. On the day of the battle between the Earl, of Wellington, as he was then, he was granted a dukedom. during the Hundred Days in 1815, and Marshal Marmont of France.
I needed to know the precise date Wellington was granted his Dukedom, as generically he is referred to as ‘The Duke of Wellington,’ even though there have been several more since this, the first Duke of Wellington.
Although battle positions were hardly mentioned, before I could use them in any form I had to have a thorough grasp of the positions of every battalion, both English and French and their movement, as it was a miscalculation by Marmot that ceded victory to Wellington on July 22nd.
And then, later in Vidal’s Honor it was necessary to know what the weather conditions were like through Spain and France during September and October. Happily the Europeans had records going back that far, the English, sadly, did not.
And until I contacted an expert on vehicles in the Regency period, I didn’t know that the French did not put glass in their carriage doors for several decades after 1822m but used leather instead. I was so fascinated by that little snippet, I had to have one of my characters bemoaning that they wished they could see out without having to raise the leather blind.
Research can become so fascinating if you are not careful it will take over and totally distract you and leave you with a huge dilemma in deciding what to use and what to leave out.
Even in my short prequel, Honor’s Dilemma, research into fashion for both hero and heroine during a ball was essential, and once again, distracting. In a short story you don’t have time, or word-allowance, to paint a detailed portrait. It has to be a sketch, but a vivid sketch, or backdrop if you like, that enhances the story as it unfolds centre-stage.
Research can be fun, and can take up more of a writer’s time than it should, in some cases, but it is as essential to your story as the characters and the plot, because if your research is inaccurate, then your characters will lose their way, and the story will unravel.
Best-selling author, Sherry Gloag is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England. She considers the surrounding countryside as extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs “thinking time” and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel. While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there are no other walkers close by.
Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office. She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic.
ABOUT VIDAL’S HONOR
Faced with accusations of treason, Honor, Lady Beaumont, wonders which she will lose first, her head or her heart.
When plunged into a world of spies, agents and espionage during the Peninsula wars, Honor, Lady Beaumont, flees for her life when the French capture her husband at Salamanca, and relies on his batman to arrange her safe passage back to England.
Viscount Charles Vidal is ordered by Robert Dumas, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to travel to Spain and escort the only woman he’s ever loved, Lord Devlin Beaumont’s widow back home before the French discover her whereabouts.
Their journey is fraught by danger, least of all knowing whether they are surrounded by friends or foe. Will they survive long enough to explore the possibility of a future together or will whispers of treason be enough to see Honor dispatched to Tyburn first?
While Vidal joked with his cousin, the viscount scanned the room. The smell of fine wine, whiskey and cigar smoke blended into a rich aroma that was as much a part of Whites as the card games, the background chatter, and outbreaks of lewd laughter from the younger members of the club.
One member in particular interested Vidal tonight, and he watched Robert Dundas, second Viscount Melville, and First Lord of the Admiralty, take leave of his friends and head in his direction.
He wondered why the man spent the best part of the night watching his every move, and paused in the act of fobbing his snuff box while he waited for the viscount to join him.
“Take a walk with me?” Although couched as a question, Vidal noted the quiet steel of command in the other man’s voice. Dundas laid a hand on his arm; a companionable gesture for anyone interested enough to observe the two men leaving the club together. “I believe I live not far beyond your own house. I’d appreciate your company, and this is not the place for such a discussion. ”
With an indolent twist of the wrist Vidal returned the modish lacquered box, unopened, to his pocket and nodded agreement. A man’s club was no setting for private conversation, and it was plain the man wanted to talk about something away from flapping ears.
Together they strolled across the room stopping to take leave of several mutual friends.
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ABOUT HONOR’S DILEMMA
Who could predict the toss of a coin would turn out to be so perilous?
Life-long friends, Viscount Charles Vidal, and Devlin, Lord Beaumont, both love the same woman. Between them they devise a plan to save Honor Adversane the heartache of choosing between them.
When Honor finds out what they have done, will she accept one of them as her husband, or settle for a marriage of convenience?
“My dance, I believe.” Vidal bowed, his smile more formal than relaxed, and Honor’s anticipation flipped over to trepidation. She glanced from Vidal to Devlin but failed to interpret the fleeting look that passed between them.
“Come.” Vidal tugged gently on her hand and guided her onto the dance floor. Fewer couples stood up for the waltz but enough for Vidal to guide Honor into the centre of the couples waiting for the music to begin, and away from the eyes of the chaperones and usual biddies that enjoyed such occasions to engage in and exchange the latest tittle-tattle.
The firm clasp of Vidal’s arm around her waist shot sparks of heat up her spine and into her face. The lack of the required distance between dance partners didn’t seem to bother Vidal, so Honor leaned in against his hard chest, then suppressed a gasp when he pulled her right up against his full length. Hardness and strength radiated from him, and yet his arms offered safety and gentleness. She looked into his face ready to chastise him for being so forward when she noticed the tightness around his mouth, the pallor of his face and the darkness in his eyes.
He held her steady when her steps faltered and rested his brow against hers. Vidal’s continuing silence added to her alarm.
“What is it Charles, what is wrong? Are you not well? Shall we sit down?” She tried to pull away, to see him more fully, but he tightened his hold on her.
“I asked you to dance this waltz with me, Honor, because I have something to say to you.”
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