Researching Historical Fiction: Immersing Oneself in the Past  : Women Writers, Women’s Books

When I decided to write a story set in the 16th century, I knew that a lot of research lay ahead. It actually turned out to be a whole year of research. I studied monarchs and dates of wars, major events and conflicts, and of course the central subject of the book: witchcraft accusations. But it was the small things, the everyday actions, belongings, meals and, yes, even underwear, of ordinary people that proved a little elusive, and I set out to find them with an obsessive determination.

It wasn’t enough to read time traveller style guides and watch historical films, informative as those were. I wanted to be totally immersed in the time; I wanted to be thinking the thoughts that people would have thought then, eating the food they would have enjoyed or endured and, as far as was possible, really feeling like I was living in that world.

Researching Historical Fiction: Immersing Oneself in the Past  : Women Writers, Women’s Books

This is precisely how I prefer to do my research whenever possible. Click through to read one historical fiction author’s experiences learning about life in 16th C. Scotland.

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