I have had this pamphlet – The Story of Okewood Church – gathering dust in various draws and on selected shelves for the best part of 40 years. It is dated 1978 and for all I know this same booklet is still available in the tiny church described.
St Johns has had many ups and downs and was left to rot and resurrected several times but has endured. It is a pretty church set in the woodlands of the Surrey/Sussex borders. It is said there was a chapel n the site long before the church was built in 1220. Buily on the remnants of a roman building (villa or temple?), which in itself was thought to be the site of a druidic temple.
Whilst writing In Her Defence, the sequel to my crime novel Winter Downs, I wanted to include a brief description of a really old village church – and Okewood does not come much older. As, indeed, is the pamphlet itself. It took me a while to find it – but The Story of Okewood Church: a Handbook for Pilgrims finally earned its place in my reference library.
Score one for the packrat who never throws anything away!
This morning the author and editor Diana Athill was interviewed on the Today programme for her 100th birthday. Happy Birthday to Ms Athill!
One of the things that she mentioned was her first memory of falling into a puddle and being hauled out again. It set me musing on my own earliest memories. I can think of several, and because we moved house two weeks after my 4th birthday I can accurately date myself as being three or even two years old at the time. Continue reading
Posted in Blogging, Crime fiction, history, Research, Writing, ww2
Tagged bunch and dodo, crime fiction, novel, research, winter downs, ww2
Whilst writing Winter Downs and the world of my heroine, Rose ‘Bunch’ Courtney, there were many things that required some careful research. The first that came to mind was the knotty problem of rationing. Conducting a small straw poll the general perception of many people seems to be that rationing came in with a bang the moment war was declared, and remained there until the end of the war, when it was lifted immediately. This was not the case.
Mindful of the privations suffered in the Great War, the Ministry of Food was set up to oversee supplies and there was an original plan to implement full rationing from September 1939. The MoF did announce rationing several times in those early months – only to postpone them due to some vociferous newspaper campaigns, spearheaded, by all accounts by a series of editorials in the Daily Express; which, for example, urged the public to “…revolt against the food rationing system.” Continue reading
Posted in Blogging, Books, Crime fiction, Research, ww2
Tagged bunch and dodo, crime fiction, Fiction, food, petrol coupons, rationing, research, winter downs, ww2
‘Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…’
That line has been running through my head all of this morning, and though Scott doubtless had specific thoughts of lust and betrayal at its heart when he first penned Marmion (which is, after all, essentially crime fiction), I’ve always thought it apt for writers in general; and increasingly so as I wade into the murky waters of historical crime fiction.
To my mind, the entire raison d’être of fiction writers is to deceive their audience. Deceive them into believing that which is being laid out before them is ‘true’, at least within itself. Even the fantasy writer must construct a world that is true to itself within its own bubble, because if that writer does not know what is true or possible in that universe, they will never be able to persuade a reader that the people and places they have created just may exist, somewhere out there, in another time and place. Continue reading
Posted in Blogging, Crime fiction, Fiction, folklore, history, Jan Edwards, Penkhull Press, Research, Writing
Tagged crime, Fiction, marmion, research, walter scott, winter downs, Writing, ww2
Beginning a new piece of writing is always exciting, especially in that dry period that, in my case at least, invariably follows a major project. Continue reading
Research should be two things:
A/ accurate; names, dates etc need to be right!
B/ invisible; your reader should never be ever be treated to a lecture on any one topic, however brief and however much you really want to use that information you spent three weeks reading up on.