Because I don’t write full-on historical fiction, I rarely need to do the sort of research that involves text books, trips to libraries, or hours of poking about in online archives. I fact-check everything, of course, but that’s usually as far as it needs to go. Just occasionally, though, I like to get more deeply into a subject in order to make my books sound as though I have a faint clue what I’m talking about.
The Roman history in Echoes of Blood was one example. I’d already been reading up on the Roman roads in Cumbria and how to trace them using Lidar, so it was quite straightforward to put that information in. When it came to the history of the Ninth Legion, though, I needed to do a lot more ferreting. In the end, there wasn’t much information out there, because so little is actually known. But I had a lot of fun reading up about the factual side of the legion’s supposed disappearance, as well as some of the wilder theories about what happened to it.
This time, I’ve gone even further back in time and am currently digging into articles about early Iron Age or even late Bronze Age settlements in Europe, their daily life, and examples of their art. I’ve also been looking at the history of the name Michael, which might give anyone who’s read Echoes of Blood a strong hint what I’m writing about. All will be revealed in due course, but I’ve discovered a huge amount I didn’t know, including an entire Bronze Age civilisation called the Lusatians (not the Lusitanians) based in what’s now eastern German and Poland, who had chariot wheels (above) that are perfect for what I need.
I still can’t top Wikipedia, though. Going through quotes and phrases involving ‘water’ for possible titles for my next work-in-progress, I was tickled pink when Wikipedia threw the following headline at me: ‘Water Buffalo Incident’. Now I want to write a story involving a water buffalo!