I’d been berating myself that I am not doing the extent of research that some other authors do – some of whom manage to reconstruct an older world – days gone by.
But…I realize that in the same way that I dislike science-fiction that overdoes the creation of “new” terminology, idioms, and everyday use items, it’s one thing to enlighten, another to become obsessed. Even writers of the time in which I have been writing (mid-1830’s) didn’t belabor the “stuff” that they found commonplace, so I’ve decided to relax about it.
The above engraving is, at least, one example of research I did. It is a proposal for a “steamship-train” that was intended for use in the vast river systems of India. Clearly it never came into being, and we might argue the reasons why for some time – but for the purposes of An Awareness of Dark Things, I decided to make use of it. Granted, this idea was some ten years after the story, but that’s what we call artistic license, right?
In the case of the steamship, I wanted a means of mass transport that would have Isabel able to have a private moment with the antagonist – while railway travel was many, many years away, steamships were beginning to be widely used. The Ganges seemed a likely setting for this unwieldy monstrosity – as well as being a symbol for modernization steamrolling ancient and pristine settings.
My goals in research are to ensure that I’m not saying things that are patently untrue, that are geographically impossible, or anachronistic to the point of ridiculousness. My summer and fall reading focused a great deal on this time period, as well as slightly before – reading about the Caton sisters, Victoria’s early life, The Count of Monte Christo – for anyone who thinks that life is grossly unfair, or that we are living in the worst economic times ever, I challenge anyone to read Sisters of Fortune and/or Washington’s Secret War, amongst others – I think we’re pretty lucky but also still mired in the same foolishness.