Blogging from A to Z: U is for Underpinnings

I’m reblogging this 2017 post on historical underpinnings; Claire’s corset from In The Eye of The Beholder is referenced. Enjoy!

Sharon E. Cathcart

uAs I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I primarily write historical fiction.  This means researching not only social mores, foods, and events, but also fashion.  When you are looking at the various women’s silhouettes that were en vogue throughout history, you have to also look at the underpinnings that created them.

2009.1.1_20140317_03_web Fashion Institute of Technology

I’m not going to lie; women essentially wore two full sets of clothing throughout most of history.  The underthings were almost as heavy as the outer garments.  Corsetry and petticoats were made to fit a given woman’s shape into the styles of the day.  Let’s go back to the earliest period in which I’ve written:  the Regency, which is when Clytie’s Caller is set.  Clytie’s stays (like the ones at the right) would have kept her figure pretty straight, in line with the Empire-waisted dresses that were in fashion at the time.

romantic era Fashion Institute…

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Blogging from A to Z: O is for Opéra Garnier

I’m reblogging this 2017 post about the Opéra Garnier, which includes photographs from my visit. The opera house is the setting for most of In The Eye of The Beholder.

Sharon E. Cathcart

If you read any of my Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series, the importance of the Palais Garnier, also known as the Opéra Garnier is obvious.

oConstruction on the Palais Garnier was begun in 1861 and opened in 1875.  The architect, Charles Garnier, was a young man who won a competition, from a field of 170; Napoleon III had a vision for redesigning the city by widening the streets and creating a new “look” for the City of Light, and this was part of it.  Garnier’s opulent design reflected the Second Empire Beaux-Arts style, and presented ample opportunities to see and be seen.  At this time in history, people did not go the the opera to look at the show, but to look at one another; the house lights were not even dimmed during the performance.  Until 1881, when electricity was installed, the theatre used gaslight.

The auditorium itself is…

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Blogging from A to Z: K is for Kissing

Call it cheating if you want to; I am all too pleased to recycle this post. Honestly, this scene with Erik and Claire’s first kiss is one of my favorite parts of In The Eye of The Beholder

Sharon E. Cathcart

kI looked down at my gloved hands, twisting in my lap. “I kissed him before they took him away, Erik. That was the last touch of a man’s lips that I felt, still warm because he hadn’t been gone for long. After that, my cousin François sold the house in Baincthun. He sold my jewels and my books. He sold everything but Josephine and my clothes. He made me come with him and his riding troupe, because my father had appointed him as my guardian unless and until I married. He still controls the income from the allowance my father left me; I see none of it.”

I looked up at him. “That is all.”

“Claire, I have known only one woman’s kiss, and that one was quite … reluctant. If what I ask of you now is refused, I will understand. Please, Claire. I want you to feel a…

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Reblogging: Yesterday at the Lorraine Motel

Fifty-one years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. We need to remain mindful that the civil rights struggle continues.

Sharon E. Cathcart

IMG_2327As you’ve gathered, I’m in Memphis this week.  I’ve been doing research for the new short fiction collection, the working title of which is Bayou NonStandard Time (that is definitely going to change).

Anyway, itineraries have changed on the fly more than once during this trip, with things shifting in and out of priority and sometimes off the list altogether depending on circumstances, weather, and more.

Yesterday afternoon, I shifted priorities once again and visited the National Civil Rights Museum.  It’s located at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry Street.

Does that location ring any bells with you?  Perhaps it should.

It’s where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.

So.  I drove from downtown Memphis, which is pretty nice and thriving (despite the fact that Greater Memphis has the worst poverty rate in the nation, at nearly 20 percent), to the…

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Facts from My Fiction: Executive Order 9066

Signed on this day in 1942.

Sharon E. Cathcart

492px-exclusion_order_posted_at_first_and_front_streets_in_san_francisco_directing_removal_of_persons_of_japanese_ancestry-_-_nara_-_196319 Instructions Based on Executive Order 9066

This is probably going to be one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written.  Not because the content is difficult to understand, mind you, but because it’s very personal.  Over the course of this post, you’ll find out why.

Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the reason that Japanese-American citizens like actor-activist George Takei and his family were taken to live in concentration camps.  Before the camps were built, many Japanese-Americans had to live in the stables at race tracks.  One of them, Tanforan (which is now a shopping center), is only 45 minutes from where I live.

I worked with a man named Jan Kurahara who was an internee.  Jan was also one of the nisei, Japanese-Americans who joined the Army to prove their loyalty to the country.  Before he passed at age 91, Jan wrote a book…

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