I don’t think there could be anything more enjoyable than writing a historical novel. Honestly! Actually, it’s not just writing the novel. Actually, writing the actual novel isn’t the most fun part (I’m a little embarrassed to admit). It’s the research.
Doing research is definitely the most fun part of writing historical novels. I’ve got a whole bookshelf filled with books on the Regency. I’ve gone to England and walked the gardens of grand estates and royal parks. I’ve walked through houses which were lived in by the aristocracy of the Regency. It’s amazing to feel the history there – and you can really feel it!
But not all of my books are set in England. A good half of An Exotic Heir takes place in Calcutta, and boy did I have a great time doing research for that! Travelling around Kolkata (as it has been renamed), walking through the Victoria Memorial’s museum which gives a wonderfully thorough history of the city, reading diaries of the English who lived in Calcutta during the Regency period. All that history is just seeped into those buildings, those letters and diaries! You can feel it just walking the streets of what was known as the city of palaces because of all the beautiful, huge homes built by the British when they lived there.
And then it struck me, as I accompanied my mother-in-law to the bazaar one morning to buy fish and vegetables: vendors have been hawking their wares in bazaars in exactly the same way for over 250 years! Yes. When you go to buy vegetables, they are frequently laid out on the ground on banana leaves just as they have been for hundreds of years. Sellers still weight the fruits and vegetables using hand-held scales dropping weights on one side to balance the precariously heaped vegetables on the other. There are only two adaptations which I have seen – bare electric light bulbs which are strung up in the evenings (although not all sellers have them, some still sell by candle light) and the cell phone which is tucked away under the seller’s legs because everybody has cell phones in India!
I had so much fun exploring the city, delving into its history and exploring the way people lived 250 years ago. I tried to infuse some of that into An Exotic Heir, to give a flavor of life during the British Raj. I hope you can feel it when you read the book, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it.
If you do, tell me! I love hearing from readers. I can be found on Facebook at meredithbondauthor, on Twitter @merrybond or you can email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About A Dandy in Disguise