A Reader Asks: What lead you to reference so many fascinating facts in this particular book (Maid and Footman)?
I was a history major…one of 3 in my class (back in the day) who opted NOT to go to law school. While I spent 25 years in advertising, my background compelled me to keep on top of history. In the early 90s I returned to school and got my MS in History (focus…European History post 1789 and US Foreign Affairs). Then I began teaching at the college level. I teach US History, Western Civilization, World History and Research Writing.
Enough on background: my particular sensibilities have me wanting to place my characters within the context of their times. The worlds in which they exist, the ground upon which they stand, informs their behavior.
Have you ever considered why the British ton and gentry regarded those who worked as somehow “tainted with the stench of trade” and thus below their notice? OK…so maybe you have. But, have you asked yourself what this attitude led to? The ultimate financial failure of the estate system (except, of course, in my books, Pemberley, Thornhill, Hedgebrook and Longbourn, where the owners looked ahead and began to modernize their investments to include railroads and factories) because the landowners kept pouring money into a system–by buying land and spending lavishly–that would ultimately be beggared by the repeal of the protectionist Corn Laws in 1846. Why were the Laws repealed? To feed the growing factory class flowing into the cities to work in the factories owned by those made fabulously wealthy in trade.
I also, as an historian, want to give credit where it is due…so I footnote like crazy as stuff pours out of my mind. Gordon Lightfoot…Dr. Who…Colonel Sharpe…Poldark…Stephen Maturin….are all worthies who should be mentioned to help you see my process.
And, if our soldiers today are affected by PTSD, why not those who survived 1892 through 1815? So Colonel/General Fitzwilliam and Sergeant Wilson could experience the same?
And, I am a guy who loves to turn over a rock to see what is underneath. That means I question ideas with which I am unfamiliar. Take the engagement scene in “Maid and Footman”…Henry is so thrilled that the sound of the bells at Westminster seemed an appropriate metaphor. So I wondered how many bells that might be…a peal is in excess of 5,000 strokes in multiple “turns.”
Hope this helps on my process.