My favorite part of researching literature is contextualizing the text.
I know, I know –
That is a punishingly boring thing to set in stone as a favorite anything, but let me explain.
Basically, my favorite part of research is the fact that I get to be as nosy and gossipy as I want about people who have been dead for centuries, and that’s considered kind of a good trait.
Lord Byron once wrote a letter to his publisher in which he mused about running away from it all with an intelligent, red headed woman, now Mary Shelley was intelligent and Byron’s friend and her hair was sometimes described as reddish so does that mean…
We’ll never know, but it’s fun to what if? on it, isn’t it?
Okay, it is to me.
Other Shelley scholars are generally less amused by the possibility of a torrid affair between one of the most important female writers of all time and the doomed bad-boy of Romantic poetry, but they might just be sourpusses.
Another fun what if? Blake’s “The Tyger”, fabulous poem, one of my favorites, read it here ye’ who haven’t yet experienced it. But what if Blake’s great, mechanical predator wasn’t just a metaphor for a mathematical god, destruction, and the onset of the industrial revolution?
What if he was describing the kitten pictured up at the top of this post instead?
That’s an 18th century automaton and musical instrument constructed for the Tipu Sultan and confiscated by British troops in the 1790s. It’s a tight squeeze date wise, but there is a possibility that Blake read about the Tipu Tiger in time to write his own “Tyger” into existence.
Happy coincidence, a conspiracy theory, or good historical contextualization?
Probably a little of all three.
But this is the kind of human puzzle that I love putting together.
I bring up historical contextualization, and my love for it, because sometimes that context leaps out and bites me in the behind.
Sometimes it even does that in my own writing.
Like many people who got locked into their houses for most of 2020, I started a personal project by accident. Namely, I wrote a novel.
And then I looked back on what I’d done and said “Oh damn, I miss travel.”
Immortal mages, a mysterious murder, and they just happen to wander through three of my favorite countries on earth while they’re solving the whole thing?
Vacation hunger might have struck while I was in lockdown.
No more though. The lockdown is lifted, the new year is looking just a little bit brighter than the last, and the lockdown novel is in the process of being published!
If I am the kind of person who gets studied by go-getter PhDs in 200 years (I won’t be, but a girl can dream), I want them to know that yes, on a subconscious (or not so subconscious level) level I probably (definitely) wrote this novel because I was sick of being locked in my house.
There, Jenni biographers of the far future. It’s confirmed, and I’ve just done your job.
Or at least made it a little easier.
Now you get have fun figuring out which friend’s name got tucked into Heretic‘s plot, and what I’m tagging them back for.
For all the rest of you living in the Year of Our Lady 2022, Heretic (Hellmage Chronicles #1) is forthcoming from Wild Wolf Publishing. Exact dates and links to pre-order and all that good jazz will be celebrated in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, it’s going to be dark guys.
My cover artist and I are looking at Da Vinci dissections for inspiration, and that is thematically relevant.
Those of you familiar with my research also might find some familiar threads too, but why don’t we leave that to the biographers and academics of the future too?
Heretic has nothing to do with The Adventures of Dogg Girl and Sidekick. I will return to that world at some point, but not right now.
Right now, my second baby is in production. She was born from dark bones, written in a time when the world stood stiller, and now, she’s almost ready to walk into the light.
Won’t you join us?