Reading non-fiction for my fiction…

It was great to read Patricia Bracewell’s articles on early Roman roads in England on English Historical Fiction Authors (EHFA) – very timely given that in the upcoming sequel to Men of the Cross, Henry de Grey’s fictional manor lies about one mile west of Ermine Street in Lincolnshire. It was also heartening to see Patricia’s note on her own blog: “Whenever I put together a history-related blog post, it’s not something I’m writing off the top of my head even if the material springs from research I’ve been doing for the past nine years.”

I have spent extra time the last 2-3 weeks reviewing primary resources for my upcoming post about Messina on EHFA. And you may recall my search for information on the siege at Wallingford here.  Writing a Third Crusade novel meant knowing about medieval warfare as well as the events, major players, and politics of the time. The second book in my Battle Scars series takes place in the year following the Crusade, 1193-1194, and gives me the opportunity to learn more about social life and living conditions specifically in 12th century England. My background research includes topics such as:

  • medieval houses – sizes, materials used to build, layout
  • life on the manor
  • crops, trees, animals
  • Forests (with a capital “F”) and woodlands and fens

Here are a few of the books I’m using:

Land and people in medieval Lincolnshire
Power and profit: the merchant in medieval Europe
The English Mediaeval House
A social history of England, 900-1200

(See the complete citations on my Reference Resources page.)

I wish I could read something once and commit it to memory, but no – I find myself going back to review time and again. Are you one of those lucky writers with a brain that traps every word for future use?


  1. Elaine Powell (@empowellauthor) Avatar

    I would love, love, love to keep everything about the 12th century in my head. But no- the reference book and Post-it are my weapons of choice!

    1. Char Avatar

      Same here, Elaine! I have a few reference e-books, and love the ability to highlight passages and bookmark pages. And I use an iPhone app called CamScanner that I use to ‘scan’ a few pages of a book and then email it as a PDF to myself. I organize those on the computer hard-drive in a ‘background reading’ folder.

  2. […] few months ago I posted about the non-fiction I was reading, including works on housing in the 12th century. The locations in For King and Country vary from […]

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