In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Digging Into Irish History

St. Patrick's Day is coming in a few days. I've been reading a lot about Ireland, Irish history, and the Irish in America. Since the mystery I'm writing just now (working title COLD MIDNIGHT) is set in 1921 in a nearby Vermont town, friction among Irish and French Catholics plays a role in the plot.

Good background for Vermont Irish has been the relatively new book by Vincent E. Feeney, FINNEGANS, SLATERS, AND STONEPEGGERS: A HISTORY OF THE IRISH IN VERMONT (2009). Feeney begins with the Irish in Vermont in the 1750s, and meticulously tracks community creation, church establishment, church arson, and more.

With this research has come new insight into "the Potato Famine." Soho Crime author James R. Benn talked about his own learning curve on this one while he was writing his newest Billy Boyle (World War I) novel, EVIL FOR EVIL. The nastiest discovery was that the Irish really did have some potatoes and other food during that time -- but the English, basically acting as an occupation force, took the food.

This comes up also in Erin Hart's mysteries -- I've read the first (HAUNTED GROUND) and third (FALSE MERMAID, which just came out). When I'm writing, I wrestle with the history of conflict to develop a better understanding of people's choices, before my characters begin to make their own decisions.

For a little lighter research: I'm always making lists of what people routinely ate and how they cooked it in different time periods. So here's a handy web site for St. Patrick's Day: http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodireland.html . Let me know if you're making something special for that day, or just wearing a bit of green to acknowledge the date's significance to so many.

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