A writer’s diet

People are always shocked when I tell them that I don’t read for pleasure any longer. I simply don’t have the time. I have two young children and when they’re out of the house, I write.

That’s not to say I don’t read, but the books I read are associated with what I am writing – biographies and autobiographies of the real people in my novels. And i do enjoy them. But it has been a while since I have read a work of fiction for pleasure.
A small collection of books I have had to devour
in order to write my novels.
For a long time this concerned me because before I had children, I read all the time. I would consume two novels a week. As I saw it, reading and writing went hand in hand. For an author to remain creative, their imagination must be fed. I believed all authors should be nourished by a colourful buffet of fiction and non-fiction, meaning my current diet is severely lacking. Click here for Jenni Curry’s take on this dilemma.
How's your literary diet?
However, my publisher recently eased my mind. She told me that many authors refuse to read while they’re writing, fearful they might unconsciously steal another writer’s ideas and images. They prefer to keep temptation well out of reach.

I don’t think I’m one of those writers and probably, once my children are older and I have more time to myself, I will begin reading for pleasure again. But until then I am on a strict diet...

Weird & wacky research

As an author of historical fiction I am frequently diverted down surprising and unusual roads in my pursuit of historical accuracy.

Below are the top five topics I’ve found myself researching in recent weeks.

  1. The treatment of bovine mastitis in Puritan New England. Rubbing peppermint oil on the udder eased the cow’s discomfort.
  2. Stage coach travel to and from London in the early 19th century. Expensive, slow and arduous. Click here if you’d like to learn more on this topic. It’s quite fascinating! 
  3. The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Architect Sir Christopher Wren conceived the dome, while Sir James Thornhill painted the inside of the structure. It features eight scenes from the life of St Paul.
  4. The funeral of Baroness Thatcher. It lasted three hours and I watched every minute on YouTube.
  5. The letter writing habits of Caribbean pirates in 1715. Those that were literate did correspond with loved ones at home. However, the chances of the letter ever reaching its destination were slim.