Saturday, March 5, 2011

Guest Post: C.S. Harris talks about her research

Today I am pleased to bring you C.S. Harris, author of the newly released Where Shadows Dance, as she gives us a glimpse into her world of research for the acclaimed St. Cyr Regency mystery series. Thank you, C.S. Harris, for being here with us today! 


Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Sebastian St. Cyr proves his courage once again, with murder and marriage-in a brand new historical mystery.
Sebastian St. Cyr finds himself in the realm of international intrigue when he investigates the murder of a foreign office diplomat-a murder his reluctant bride-to-be, Hero Jarvis, knows something about. And when a second body is found, Sebastian must race to unmask a ruthless killer who is now threatening Hero's life-and the life of their unborn child."


And now I give you C.S. Harris:

"Because I have a PhD in nineteenth-century European history, people often think I don’t need to do much research for my Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series. But the truth is, I probably spend almost as much time on research as I do writing. My historical background gives me a good understanding of the zeitgeist of the day—the spirit or culture of the time in all its political, intellectual, philosophical, and artistic manifestations. But when you’re writing historical fiction, the devil is in the details. And sometimes those details can be very elusive.

I can spend hours searching for the kind of tiny facts that most readers breeze past without even noticing, whether it’s a description of the uniform and cadenettesof a French hussar officer or the price of a bunch of watercress in 1812. And that’s as it should be. It is very important to me for my books to be as accurate as possible, but I want those details to be subtle, to give a sense of the flavor and mood of the period without being boring or weighing down the story. I like a good, fast-paced read, so that’s what I try to deliver.

But what ends up as fast-paced can sometimes be excruciating to create. I have maps of London from 1747, 1810, 1811, and 1814, and I spend hours peering at them with a magnifying glass. I also have a wonderful thick six volume set from the nineteenth century on the history of London’s streets and buildings, from which I’ve gleaned all sorts of fascinating details and facts and even a few plot ideas.

Does this mean I never get things wrong? Unfortunately, no. Sometimes the mistakes come from simple forgetfulness: I once casually referred to a certain breed of dog without stopping to think that the breed might not have existed in 1811. It didn’t. Or sometimes I’ll think I know something when I actually don’t.

But I do own an eighteenth century double-barreled flintlock pistol similar to the one Sebastian carries; it hangs on the wall beside my computer. And I’ve a shot a flintlock rifle so that I know exactly what it looks, smells, and feels like. I do everything I can to bring the London of Sebastian St. Cyr to life in my books.

You can visit my website at http://www.csharris.net/, and my blog at http://csharris.blogspot.com/."

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My review for C.S. Harris's new release, Where Shadows Dance, will be coming soon!


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