Somewhere in Time – Kathleen Harrington

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Someone once asked me, if I could visit any time period and location, when and where would I go? I felt pulled in, oh, so many directions, just envisioning the possibilities.

Even today, I find that a hard question to answer. Every epoch has its allure, and I’ve visited many exotic locales in my books. If you’ve ever seen Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, you can understand my dilemma. The hero, played by Owen Wilson, yearned to be in Paris when it was the literary playground of such greats as Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. But in the film, a young woman from that era longed to live in the Paris of Toulouse Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge.

One of the first choices that come to mind, for me, is London during the Regency. Of course, I’d want to be the daughter of a wealthy duke with handsome suitors surrounding me at a grand ball. And my dance card would be absolutely full. Yowza!

I love the thought of elegant carriages pulled by matching chestnuts, morning rides around Hyde Park, town mansions lit in the evening with brilliant chandeliers, and spacious country estates. No wonder I cherish Jane Austen! Ah, to be Lizzie Bennet, Mr. Darcy’s beloved spitfire. Sigh.

Another place I can envision visiting is the Scottish Highlands during Scotland’s Golden Years under James IV. On the brink of the Enlightenment, the country remained independent from English rule. Clansmen in their tartans, with great claymores on their backs, met in the Scottish Court at Edinburgh to woo their sweethearts with song and poetry. Who can resist the sight of a brawny Scot in a kilt? Hmm. Not me.

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I think, however, the place and time I’d most like to visit is the American West in the 1880’s. Women wore the most fantastic costumes, fitted tightly through the bust and waist, and adorned with buttons and bows and perky bustles perched right on top their you-know-what. They carried frilly parasols over their feathered bonnets and button shoes on their dainty feet.

But the men, oh my! They were anything but dainty! Wearing leather chaps and wide Stetsons, pistols strapped to their sides, the broad-shouldered fellows simply oozed muscular, masculine charm. Add to that, horses with tooled leather saddles, ropes hanging from a saddle horn, and riding with your darling in a surrey with a fringe on top! Doesn’t get better than that!

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Hmm. Guess I’ll let you choose which place and time sounds the best to you.

Kathleen lives in Southern California with her American Bulldog, Auron. Her latest release, BLACK RAVEN’S LADY, Book 3 of the Highland Lairds Trilogy, is now on sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research…love it or hate it.

[ri-surch, ree-surch]  noun:  diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.

There’s a very popular children’s book called “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” which I had read over and over to my granddaughter; we both loved it.  The premise of the story is as follows:  If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk to go with it.  If he wants a glass of milk, he’s going to have to get the milk from the refrigerator and pour it into a cup.  When he pours it into the cup he might spill it and then he’ll have get a mop to wipe it up, etc., etc., etc.   I think it’s the what happens next question that makes the story relatable.  Each choice the mouse makes has a direct connection to the next choice.  And on, and on, and on.  I do know that if you give me a cookie I’m going to want to know where it came from and what’s in it.  (And I’ll want a glass of milk.) This is what I do when I’m writing.  One piece of information leads to the next and then the next and so on.

For example, my current WIP (work-in-progress) I’m researching a very specific event in California history that occurred in the winter of 1861/1862. Although the Great California Flood of 1862 affected the entire state, the northern part of California suffered the most—the great “inundation” at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers.  The rain poured steadily over a period of ??? days and the entire Sacramento Valley turned into one big lake. Sacto Flood 1862 So much so that ??? inches were registered. The Sacramento river rose ??? feet, broke the levees and covered ??? square blocks of the city.  Hundreds of people, livestock, homes and property were displaced.   See the question marks?  So I don’t slow down during my actual “writing” I put them in, go back later, search for the marks and fill in the missing information.

I can’t help myself.  Research—for me—is trying to eat just one M&M.  I look up one simple fact and swoosh, I get sucked into the vortex of information not to be seen or heard from for days.  I want, no, I need to know what was so unique about the weather and related conditions that caused so much flooding and damage?  How much (cold) rain came down each day and how many feet did the river rise?  How did it feel to stand near the river’s edge and think “how bad can this get” then watch a boat or two float up to street level?  How did the business owners on Front Street feel as they watched debris-ladened water rush into the streets, Flood of 1862fill up their basements and then…..rise to the height of the second floor?  How did they save their merchandise?  What if they couldn’t get a boat?  What about their families?  Who would save them?  And worse, what if they got swept up in the water and possibly drowned?  Research, research, research…….

But, I love it.  It’s my favorite part of writing.

See you later.

Katie

(Answers:  90 days; 33 inches; 24 feet, about 30 square blocks.)

The Magic of Research

One of the great things about being a writer is the research. Great for me because I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, from the esoteric to the scientific. I learned about mushrooms (fungi) and the study of them, called mycology, when I researchiOCX7EjJdTlDkbSF5Y9mWhIJ_9xkZa0jUU7XoajAWLoed the subject for one of my earlier stories. I contacted a mycology student in the Pacific Northwest where my story takes place and she happily provided me with her published research papers. A decline in mushrooms would result in a decline in flying squirrels, which would ultimately result in a decline in the already threatened northern spotted owl. Who knew?

From that same story came my love of Procyon lotor, also known as the rascally raccoon. One of these hardy, adaptive animals figured prominently in the story, and every time he was on scene he entertained me. I also learned about other flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest, the dangers of deforestation and the wonders of our ecosystem.

Another story had me delving into the world of road rallies where, not speed is king, but perfect timing to various checkpoints. Normally, you have a driver and a navigator. Some rules will not allow the use of GPS. You’re given a road book, and some directional instructions can be as basic as “go 10.56 miles and turn right onto the dirt road.” In my story, I added the additional challenge of deciphering a riddle at each check point that, when solved, would reveal an artifact that each entrant would need to collect for extra points. Humor was key here, as some of the items were hilarious, often inappropriate.

When my interest turned to the paranormal, I knew I wanted something a bit different for my witches than what most people associate with that world of magic. In my work-in-progress series Charmed by a Witch, I have witches, both female and male, with differing levels of power, differing specialties and talents. My Internet search led me to all kinds of interesting and weird sites, including many self-proclaimed real witches who take their status very seriously. I learned about covens and spells and tools of the magic realm.

My witch in Charm’d, the first book of the series, makes charm bracelets using crystals and gemstones, then “charms” them with a spell so the wearer may achieve success, fall in love, overcome difficulties, gain better health, etc. Her spells enhance the already-mysterious properties inherent in the stone itself. For instance, a carnelian can aid creativity; coral will bring happiness; garnet, wealth. Most have healing of the physical as well. Are you looking for love while trying to get rid of wrinkles and a few pounds? Wear rose quartz. Are you seeking success in your endeavors while suffering from chronic constipation? Amber is the key.

In my paranormals I can make up a lot of stuff, but I still find myself constantly researching facts to lend authenticity to an imaginary world. The wacky and wild can then somehow make sense. And I can satisfy that thirst.

by Barb DeLong