Style and Substance: the glamour of 1930’s motorcars21st November 2023
For the rich in Britain between the wars, having the...
Variety theatre: 1918 show in aid of St Dunstan’s14th July 2019
This remarkable document is a testament to its time. Programme...
Behind the scenes on current work of Ruth Wade / BK Duncan. Here you’ll find some of the background research for my new historical novel. Once I am confident I know enough to start the actual writing of the book, there should be a pretty comprehensive account of my research process tucked under this category. It will be interesting to thumb through it myself.
The Rhythms in Crime Dance Quartet are four independent novels set in 1920’s Spain, Cuba, and Argentina. Each linked by the iconic music and dance of the people. Here you can explore the research background to the first two books. To give you a taste of what you will encounter: A Fatal Rhythm is infused with the flamenco and the tortured souls of the Gypsies living in the Sacromonte caves in Andalusia. Dancing with Death pulses to the beat of the rumba danced on hot Havana nights, rum-running, gangsters, and revolution. Visit my current research to discover how I am setting about growing the world of book three in the Rhythms in Crime Dance Quartet.
All writers need to be inspired. Not just by the topics they are researching or the story they are writing, but by the world around them. Here are some of the things that have, somewhere along the road of life, gone into making me tick.
I can’t visit the world my characters in the May Keaps series would have inhabited because it no longer exists. But my job is to make it feel as though it does and bring it alive in the reader’s imagination. Here are some pieces about my research sources and techniques, and my trials and tribulations in the quest to get it right. You might like to flick through the pages of my media scrapbook for some articles on the real world behind the May Keaps series. Or peruse my pieces on the craft of writing the books.
Researching oral history is at the heart of what I do to bring story ideas to life. You need to know how people lived in order to write a historical novel. So I turn to the legacy of what people said and wrote about their thoughts and experiences, loves and loss, hopes and dreams. And through my characters I do my very best to honour their lives because, without them, my books could never be written. Here are some pieces exploring the riches I have come across when researching oral history for my journeys into the past.
All writers research differently. I plan my novels to be in the settings and explore the topics that already pique my curiosity because the research for them can take up to a year. Which is an awfully long time if it was to be spent on something I have no interest in. Of course my books also require I check up on the sort of things that would normally have me yawning or skimming the details to get it over with, but that’s part of the job. Here are some pieces about my favourite topics to research, and the ones that nearly drove me around the bend.
Come back to explore the contents of my resource library from time to time because I will be adding more thoughts around the topics whenever I can. I would not be a writer if it wasn’t for everything I have read, learned, and grown from, throughout my life. Within the pages of my books are encoded my experiences of acquiring knowledge and it only feels fair that what others have made possible for me, I should, in turn, pass on. So here are some doors for you to open; I hope you thoroughly enjoy exploring the worlds waiting beyond them.
In Britain, the Great War was the first to be documented and the material made widely available. Newspapers such as The War Illustrated covered the battlefronts at sea, on the ground, and in the air for the interested-but-detached to read over the breakfast table. Propaganda in a time of war. But personal involvement conveyed different experiences. With harrowing stories to tell of loss of innocence. The key to bringing this terrible period of history alive is to convey what it was like to be an ordinary person like you or me caught up in events. Here are some pieces I have written about my research sources and techniques, and my drive to get it right.
Walls of Silence took a lot of research. This novel stood on the shoulders of material I had gathered on shell-shock for a previous writing project. I added folders on the emergence of psychoanalysis, asylums in the 1920s, and the treatment & rehabilitation of those society considered mad. But total immersion in the grim subject of damaged minds was relieved by reading about subjects such as beekeeping, roses, herbal remedies, Gypsy lore, and village grocers’ shops. The topics I’ll be touching on here are equally eclectic.
A popular misconception about women living the 1920s is that they were all flappers. They weren’t. Most couldn’t afford the luxury of sequined dresses and the closest they got to a rackety life was sitting in the tanner seats of the local picture house clutching a box of strawberry cremes. But the Great War made everyone’s life different. Rich and poor alike had to adjust to a changed world at the same time as the loss of sons, brothers, lovers, husbands or fathers had changed them. Discover some of my research on life for British women in the 1920s.