Writing and vampires, Vampires and research, Vampires and WW2. Researching for writing and how to have fun with it all. by Georgia Evans
For the past ttwelve years or so, I’ve been living with vampires and having a whale of a time. Selling books just added to the fun and satisfaction.
It all started, back in my unpublished days, when one of my characters, announced he was a Vampire and would I please get that straight before I went any further with his story. Even back then, I knew better than to argue with one of my characters. Since I wanted to keep him happy, I decided I’d better do some research and fast since I knew diddly squat about Vampires. As luck would have it the next weekend, I found two fantastic non-fiction books: In Search of Dracula by McNally and Florescu and The Vampire Encyclopedia by Bunson. I glommed both in the next few days and quickly learned there are as many versions of the Vampire myth as there are world cultures . Then I turned to fiction, reading everything I could find by Chelsea Quin Yarbro, Lori Herter, Linda Lael Miller, PN Elrod, Ann Rice and Nancy Gideon. It was a year or two later that Tanya Huff and Laurel K Hamilton arrived on the fiction scene with their wonderful Vamp universes and a couple of years more before VAMPIRE ROMANCE burst on the world as a distinct genre.
What I learned from fiction was you could pretty much take whatever twist you wanted, just as long as it made sense within the story and you stayed consistent in your fictional world.
So, finally knowing a thing or two, I went back to my vampire hero, who quickly told me he was Christopher Marlowe, the not yet dead and buried Elizabethan playwright and poet, and I finished his story.
No one wanted to buy it. That book amassed my personal record for rejections: 41. Until Kate Duffy at Kensington bought it, retitled it Kiss me Forever, launched a series, under my own name of Rosemary Laurey, and put me on the USA Today Best Seller List.
Fast forward a bit. Five vampire romances later, Kate asked me to write a book set in WW2 with vamps as villains.
Time for more research. Lots more.
Since I wasn’t born until 1946, my knowledge of the War (discounting facts memorized in History at school) consisted of tales and gossip overheard from my mother, grandmother and aunts, a fenced in bomb crater near our house, the concrete dragons’ teeth (tank barriers) that stood in rows across the Surrey landscape, several bombed out buildings in the nearby town and the ruins of my original school building that took a direct hit in 1942. Not a lot to write a book on.
Since I knew the the Mole Valley in Surrey, where I grew up, had figured large in Operation Sea Lion – the German Invasion Plan, I decided to set my series there during the fall of 1940 when invasion fear was at its height. I exchanged several e-mails with the local Historical Society and Museum. A marvelous chap there sent me several booklets and a DVD compilation of old propaganda and training films and newsreels. (A note aside here to anyone doing historical research on a specific area in the UK, local historical societies and museums can be fantastic resources. The Leatherhead one was marvelous) The next trip to England, I spent a day at the Imperial War Museum in London and came away with a stack of notes and an armful of books. (Too long to list here but your can see it my research list at www.brytewood.co.uk.) Another brilliant source was the BBC’s WW2 web site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar and I mustn’t forget the numerous friends, a few years older than I am, who readily answered my countless questions like “Was milk delivered regularly during the war? (It was) When you put tape on the windows to protect from blast was it on the inside to outside? (Inside )
Then, at a friend’s suggestion, I started reading fiction written during that period to give me a feel for the mindset and attitudes of the time.
By now I’d learned how seductive research can be and how much discipline is needed to get back to work. But I managed it, created my cast of village Others- my pixies, ( the village doctor and her grandmother) the were fox ( the district nurse) the pair of Welsh dragons, (the sergeant of the home guard and his war wounded son) my water sprite,( an evacuated school teacher form Guernsey) the Elf (who runs the local black market) and the village Witch and one by one set them vis a vis to the vampire spies. Battle lines were drawn.
After a couple of title changes, Bloody Good, Bloody Awful and Bloody Right came to fruition – I must give the nod to my editor, Kate Duffy, for the final titles. My version of the invasion that never was is due out this summer in June, July and August complete with three of the most fantastic covers I’ve ever had.
However, having done all that research I feel the germ of a new WW2 book niggling at my consciousness. Not sure where this one’s going but I hope it’s as much fun to write as the ‘Bloody’ books have been.
PS. For giveaways and excerpts please visit Georgia’s web site: www.brytewood.co.uk or www.rosemarylaurey.com
So glad you enjoyed it,Victoria.. The trilogy as immense fun to write.
I received an ARC of BLOODY GOOD and really enjoyed it!