My intent is to allow the reader to walk down the lanes of old London (before it burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1666) and feel as if you are actually there. You can smell and touch the nuances of London. You'll know what it's like to work your way through the City and its the conflicting laws where religion played in important part of everyday life. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Oh, and then there's my French Revolution novel.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Barbers

Well, I've finished my 4th installment of stories in the decade of 1660's, The Barbers, a novel of science, medicine, and superstition in 1663. It was a long and arduous process, especially since, during this writing adventure, we drove across country and built a house on a pretty piece of property we own. That, with the heat of Texas, living in a new town so we could be near the build process, in a teeny condo where you had to go through the bedroom to reach the bathroom, I researched, wrote, deleted, re-wrote, and edited a novel of almost 95,000 words. (sigh - as beads of sweat pop on my forehead)

In a previous blog on another blogspot, I tickled the reader with my at the time work in progress. I spoke of research and how it affected the story. I would have loved to use Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. She is considered the first to have written science-fiction with her novel, The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World where her heroine is kidnapped from a beach by an admirer, and put aboard ship. The ship blows off course and jettisons to the arctic where all the men die. (Hmm, did she dislike men?) One would think the ship careening through time and space would be the start of science-fiction, but no. The ship continues through a crack in the ether to a new dimension, which is where the science-fiction truly begins. You can still find this novel on amazon.
Early Edition

This book was not published until 1668, and my work is written within the confines of 1663. Margaret was also the only woman to be allowed to visit the Royal Society. If I could have, Celia (my heroine) would have palled around with her, and gone to the Society for a lecture or see an experiment. As it is, I have Celia dressed as a lacky, who accompanies a viscount, to see an experiment regarding the blood/oxygen flow through the heart and lungs of a dog. This experiment actually took place, and is documented in The History of the Royal Society published in 1667. I admit to fudging a bit here, but to compile and publish a good size tome takes time. The experiment did not document a date, so I decided the experiment on the dog could have taken place in 1663.

Research was the biggest part of the process, but it always yields good things. Whoever said reality is better than fiction was correct. Little tidbits of information lead to more detail, and in reality (ha, pun intended), it can make a good story.

For instance, I ended up having to hang someone in The Barbers. This started with a comment re: a silken halter for a quicker kill instead of hemp rope, and could be used by a man or woman of wealth. This led to the study of the justice system in Early Modern England. Did you know someone convicted of murder did not have a proper defense? No lawyers entered the courtroom during a murder trial unless they were in the gallery - watching. The guilty party was forced to show innocence, and the witnesses or the victims had to show the culprit's guilt. It made the courtroom a free-for-all. Then, of course, hanging was jolly fun where a great portion of the local populace watched while they drank and ate, and cheered those on the hanging tree, dancing the Tyburn Jig.

Are we not a blood thirsty species?

 
Child fastened to womb
There was a great deal of superstition and astrology linked to doctoring, so that took a good bit of study. The Barbers-Surgeons Guild changed policies during the reign of King Henry VIII, but by the mid 17th century, wherein barbers could not heal, and surgeons could not barber, it was not too keenly heeded. Of course, a barber did not broadcast before the guild he healed, or that a surgeon snipped hair and mustachios to supplement their income. Women could apprentice to become barbers or surgeons, but they were never allowed a license to practice in the city. Women were well known to have a steady hand to the point a gentleman bragged on a woman who barbered him very well while in a coach, trundling down the lane, but I'll talk more on that next time.

If you are interested in my other works, please see: http://www.amazon.com/Katherine-Pym/e/B004GILIAS

2 comments:

  1. Regarding the bloodthirsty crowd dancing Tyburn jigs, we still see that today. In Facebook. In the last week in my desperately Wild West gun-mad city of Phoenix, Arizona, a police officer and volunteer sheriff deputy are in extremely critical condition from a shooting; a father killed 2 daughters and then himself; a mother killed one daughter and nearly succeeded with two other kids; a citizen shot at (and missed) shoplifters running out of a mall; a father having a psychotic break axed his 13 year-old son to death--and there were MORE!! It's a damn shooting gallery. But then I read the comments on Facebook, and there are idiots who don't know the constitutional justice process who spout about hunting down the alleged killers and axing or shooting or torturing them to death--and 35 people "like" the comment and spur each other on to even more hatred. Honestly, it sickens me to see such violence glorified and desired.

    But that nausea can be used in composing our novels' scenes, I suppose.

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