Guest Post: Julianne on researching for Edenbrooke + Giveaway

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.
From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.
A Proper Romance is Shadow Mountain Publishing’s brand of clean, smart, engaging, romantic stories that will never embarrass the reader.

A lot of my research for Edenbrooke was done through reading the novels of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. They gave me the important stuff--like social customs--that were essential to the plot. But there was a lot of other research I had to conduct to get the details as accurate as I could. Here are some of the things I had to research. 

   Regency names. I wanted my names to be historically accurate, so I found a great tool online called a Regency name generator that put together combinations of first and last names. I was incredibly picky about the names, and some were harder to come up with than others.

   Location. I knew I wanted the book to start in Bath and for the climax to take place in Dover. The traveling in the story is actually quite essential to the plot. So I had to consider how long it would take a carriage to travel from Bath to Edenbrooke, and from Edenbrooke to Dover. I set Edenbrooke roughly in Kent. What sort of carriage would be used? How many horses? What speeds could they travel? I had to consult maps and calculate driving distances and roads to answer these questions. Although I knew it was a stretch for Marianne to make it from Bath to Kent in one day, it was not impossible. Then that put her close enough to Dover to get her there for the climax.

    Costumes. For Regency era costumes I was able to visit the Fashion History Museum in Bath, as well as conduct research online. But this wasn’t just so I could describe what they were wearing—I actually do very little of that in my story, preferring to leave it to the reader’s imagination—but because at one point in the story, costume plays an important part in the plot. During a scene in which someone is shot, I had to figure out what Marianne might have used to staunch the flow of blood from a gunshot wound, and whether she would have known to do such a thing. That brought in research about common medical knowledge of the day, which gave me some surprises.            

      Dining. Several scenes take place around food, so I had to research what food would have typically been served at each meal, what the meals were called, and when they were served. This proved tricky, as this was a time period when lunch was beginning to evolve as a mid-day meal. Some people partook of it, but some did not. And during the Regency era, it was common for dining habits in London to be different from dining habits in the country. Dinner as we think of it was served as late as 8 or 9 p.m. in London.  

            Here are some other questions I had to address while I wrote:

            How common was travel to the Continent, and how did one get from England to France? What were the laws of inheritance? What constituted a Grand Tour? What were the most popular horse races to attend? Where and when did they take place? How did the postal system work? What did one use to sharpen a quill? What was a typical name for an inn? What weapons were used in a duel? How does fencing work? What dances are danced at a ball? What physical contact would the dancers have with one another? Where did a local ball take place, if not at a private residence? What types of vehicles were used in the country? How many people did the different vehicles hold?

            And I could go on. The research was definitely an ongoing part of the writing. Still, I will never claim to have written a perfectly accurate historical fiction. I think that may be impossible! But I did my best to avoid errors, and I had fun doing the research. 
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About The Author:

Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children. Edenbrooke is her first novel.

Thanks for coming, Julianne! 
Happy Reading!


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