Jessie: Enjoying the spring-like sound of birdsong whilst ignoring the snowbanks still blanketing the ground!
I met Nancy Herriman for the first time in real life last year at Malice Domestic. But as such things often go in the mystery community, I felt as though I had already met her ages before. She and I both are members of the Sleuths in Time on Facebook and I have enjoyed getting to know her there. I am absolutely delighted to welcome her back to the Wickeds blog today! She has generously offered a copy of her new book, A Fall of Shadowsl, to one lucky U.S. based commenter!
Congratulations, Ashley Cate! You are the winner of the giveaway! Jessie will contact you to make arrangements to deliver your copy of the book!
Thanks to the Wickeds for having me back! It’s always a pleasure to be here.
Why do I write historical mysteries? I’m crazy? I’m trying to escape from modern life?
I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I can’t seem to drag myself away from setting my stories in the past. I suppose I believe that it’s important to not forget our history. That those people are not so different from us after all, and their tales still offer lessons that resonate today.
As for the writing itself, here are just a few discoveries I have made along the way:
- First, good research is key. That may be a rather obvious statement. After all, good research is key for crafting any well-written mystery, contemporary or historical. But the farther into the past you go, the harder it is to find reliable sources, especially primary ones (meaning, written at the time). Even highly respected historians have biases that sway their conclusions. I’ve had to learn to be careful and read a variety of resources when researching.
- Second, leave preconceived notions behind. We all have ideas of what the Tudor era, for instance, was like. But life in prior centuries was not always as dirty, disgusting, and brutish as it’s been made out to be. And part of the joy of writing historical novels is unearthing facts that challenge our beliefs and offer fresh perspective.
- Third, don’t get obsessed. With details. I can spend hours searching for historically accurate trivia. HOURS! I strive to be as authentic as possible in order to bring to life the times during which my books take place. But I also have to remember to not get so lost in my pursuit of details that my characters become mere props or the mystery itself turns into a tangled mess.
- Fourth, don’t get obsessed!With imagining it’s feasible to completely reproduce the lives of people who lived long ago. Frankly, it’s impossible to get inside the head of someone who lived in the 1800s, let alone someone who lived in the 1500s. I try to breathe life into my characters, but I also have to recognize the limits of my ability to do so.
I’ve made more discoveries, but I’ll leave you all with this question: Do you enjoy reading historical mysteries, and why or why not? If so, what time period do you most like?
“With richly detailed settings and quickly moving dialogue…The second in the Bess Ellyott series mixes suspected witchcraft, actors, intrigue, and gossip aplenty in an involving historical mystery. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Peters and Amanda Quick.”
A Fall of Shadowsreleases April 9, 2019 and is available for pre-sale wherever books are sold!
Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. Her work has won the RWA Daphne du Maurier award, and when not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in Central Ohio. For more information visit www.nancyherriman.com.