Welcome to the New Space Dock 13! Helping Authors Write Weird, Bizarre, Absurd, Psychedelic Horror-Fantasy Since 1996! (We've Moved & Changed URLs; Space Dock 13 is now EelKat.com) (We are also novel-writing-tips.com, a-pink-unicorn.com, & of course are still SpaceDock13.com)
Quaraun Novel Update: Starting in 2014, in preparation for the 40th Anniversary of The Twighlight Manor Series (September 23, 1978/2018), all 2,000+ short stories are being compiled into chronological order, to be re-released as a series of 130 novels. All the original short stories are being republished both here on EelKat.com and on Amazon. In the novels, each short story now stands as a "chapter" in the novels. New scenes/stories are being writing to connect the short stories together into novel format.
>>I am preparing to embark on a new writing project and want to base it in the time of the Anglo Saxon kings of England. I have a good layman's knowledge of this era, but not at any kind of scholary level. I know that in HF some people get very pedantic if certain things aren't quite right, not just the larger picture, but things like food, or materials, tools etc. How much do you consider this when you write? I suppose it's something you can address in editing and rewrites more than the conception of the work.
How much do I consider when I write? A lot. Oh waaay too much. I obsess over it obsessively.
I play a lot of D&D and as such write a lot of novels based off many of our game sessions. This means I write a lot of quasi-medieval-type settings. And read a lot of quasi-medieval-type fiction. In my teen years I didn't think of it much.... historical accuracy was a thing for historical fiction.
Then one summer my boyfriend gets it into his head he wants to be a deep sea fisherman so we head out boat shopping. Big boats, small boats, yachts, dinghies, trullers.... spent the whole summer looking at boast. (He never bought one.)
At one point we ended up in a boat graveyard for giant old wooden boats, and fell in love with a 3 story-deck, 41 foot cabin cruiser (a motor yacht). Sadly she had a big hole in her hule and her wood was mostly rotted and needed lots of repairs.
She had a very old pirate ship type of feel to her. Turns out she was some famous boat from the 1950s, built by some famous boat builder who built one of a kind custom boats for millionaires and celebrities.
Suddenly, I found myself researching the history of this boat, next thing I knew I was researching the history of boats in general... one thing lead to another...next thing you know, I'm enrolled in a local community college taking tons of nautical history, Maine coast history, and Maritime region history, classes. (I live in Maine, btw.) One of the professors lives in a sailboat and sails from Portland to Bath each week, between the two colleges he teaches at. He mentions he's a curator of the Maritime History Museum - home of the world's only surviving clipper ship...
(I'll point out that I started college at age 37. As a kid and teen and young adult, historical accuracy never mattered to me... it wasn't until my 40s that the bug hit me.)
So, it's off to the museum for me and my boyfriend (a long 4 hour drive) to see the remains of the Snow Squall...
A clipper ship... a boat used by pirates... supposedly the "classic pirate ship" of movies. Nope. Not even close.
You remember the 41 foot boat that started all of this? This clipper ship, built in the 1700s, one of the LARGEST boats ever built, at the time... was 28 feet long. The entire ship was only the size of a house bedroom. A pickup truck parked beside it was bigger. You could fit it twice, inside that boat we had seen in the boat graveyard.
And that's when it hit me... the boats you see being used as pirate ships in movies... they were far from historically accurate... and it got me to wondering... what else in movies is not historically accurate? So I started looking into history of various eras.
One thing leads to another and before I know it, I'm asking myself: "How historically accurate is the stuff we do in D&D?" I mean I knew D&D is not meant to be historically accurate, but we are supposed to be in the 1300s and here we are about to buy a 50 foot boat, and I was like --- wait... Columbus's boat was hailed the largest boat ever built the time it was built and it was only 21 feet long in 1492, and the steering wheel was not invented until the 1730s, boats before then had a pole that controlled the rudder....
the group is looking at me like I was crazy...
It got worse, when it came time to set up camp and they are cooking beef stew over a fire and eating bread....and I blurt out: "You know it takes 5 days of nonstop steady boiling to make a stew? I tried it. Plus they didn't have beef in medieval europe. Only the mega wealthy could afford it. Peasants like us would be eating robins, squirrels, and caterpillars in our stew. And it's be turnip stew, with lots of cabbage and not much else. If we could find one, we'd have a beef bone to flavor it with, but no actual beef...."
Followed by... "Did you know that fried earthworms and fresh beetles were a staple in the 1300s and was the primary ingredient of bread? And that children had a game they played that involved counting how many worms were in a hunk of bread, and whoever won the game, that determined who got to get the most worm filled piece of bread, which was the most sought after. Did you know earthworms are not native to America, and that they were brought here in the 1500s by the pilgrims because they were a primary food source for the average person in that time period?"
Ads by Google
Everybody was like: "We're playing Dungeons and Dragons here, not taking history classes in college, what is with you?"
From that point on, we couldn't do ANYTHING in a game, without me rushing off to look it up after, to find out: "Could this really happen back then or not?"
But then it affected me as both a reader and a writer as well. I started nitpicking everything I read. Soon I was writing articles about how pissed off I got after reading a novel, set in the 1600s in which a woman bathed every day... a time period where people bathed only once every 6 months and then had to do it in public baths under the watchful eye of a priest in order to make sure none of them floated and were revealed witches.
Now I'm not able to write a thing in any time period, without researching the hell out of it to find out if it were possible in that time period.
Things that annoy me as a reader:
white bread in stories set before it's invention in 1957
daily bathing before it's invention in 1987
weekly Sunday night baths before it's invention in 1978
women washing their hair more then once per month, before doctors okayed multiple bathes per month in 1978
having clean water to drink any time before the 1950s
having juice to drink any time before the 1930s and the invention of the ice box (juice takes only 4 hours to turn to wine if left unrefrigerated)
meat in medieval meals (with the exception of songbirds, squirrels, beetles, and worms, the average person was nearly vegan, simply because meat was scarce before the 1800s)
loaves of bread in medieval times that are made without adding handfuls of beetles and maggots to it
people eating chicken before the 1700s (in the 1300s chicken cost 130 silver pieces - the price of a new car today - yet the average family made 10 pence a year income)
castles in medieval fiction, because castles were not built before the 1500s - 200 years after medieval period ended
medieval characters (800 to 1300) doing, wearing, eating, and living in Renaissance things (1600s)
pirate ships (galoons, merchantmen, and dutchmen) were an invention of the 1730s - yet they exist in most medieval fiction
Chris Columbus sailed the ocean in 1492 in the largest boat ever built - and it was 21 feet long; my sedan is 22 feet long; yet 50 foot ships are seen in medieval fiction all the time
spunky female characters with rights, in medieval fiction - in a time period when women were bought and sold along side cattle and were only allowed outside on a leash
on that same note - female tavern/inn keepers in any time period before the 1800s
also on the same note - princesses who have servants, when the real life job of a princess was to have sex with king daddy as many times as possible before turning 12, because of the belief that the only way to have a son was if you got your own daughter pregnant before her 12th year
and on that note - kings who had power before the 1600s - the pope ruled the world from 800 to the Renaissance (1600s), kings were nothing but yes men puppets for the church
and also - kings with castles sitting on thrones - cardinals, bishops, and priests had castles - kings lived in manor houses off to the side of the castle; and any one not a church leader, who sat on the throne was beheaded by the pope's templar knights
floorboards in houses - most floors were dirt
rich women with little pet dogs did not exist before the 1920s; how many people know that those little "toy dogs" in paintings were actually purses. Rich women did not keep lap dogs as pets, they collected stuffed taxidermy dogs to keep their snuff in. It was more fashionable to have a dead dog on your lap at the table, then to be sitting there with a snuff box.
And you see me weaving all these random facts into my stories now. All this because of a boat I saw in a boat graveyard. Just think how different my life, my reading, my gaming, and my writing would be, had we never gone to look at boats that summer?
Much of the information you just read here was used in writing the Quaraun series.
The Quaraun series is neither Medieval or Historically accurate. It is time travel Fantasy largely set in the 1400s, but frequently tosses characters into the 1970s, and once in a while into dates of 2,000B.C. to 2525. So, you definitely wouldn't read the Quaraun series looking for any sort of "Medieval History", however, vast amounts of research does in fact go into the creation of every element of the series, thus how I came to be researching Medieval, Middle Ages, and Renaissance.
In 1996, I graduated with a 2 year degree in Theatrical Fashion Design, Dressmaking, and History, and had focused my time period of choice on the study of the 1300s to the 1600s, thus much of my books end up set in this era, with people dressing and acting typical of that period.
I simply love history, love cloths, and am utterly fascinated by the overall fashion history of pretty much every place, time, and culture.
I grew up in the 1970s, thus why you see many of my books set in the 1970s, rather then current era.
In any case, I love finding all sorts of weird little known facts about history, like the ones I've listed on this page here and I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it for you.
Thank you for sending me this absolutely wonderful question. It has been by far one of my favorites of all time to sit down and write the answer too. Hopefully I have been able to answer your question. Good luck with you story and have a wonderful day!
More articles like this one, and more then 300 video interviews on writing, can be found in the following links to other articles in this series:
I am wondering why has Amazon moved the Quaraun books to the category "Transgender Romance" and also "Gay Erotica"? The base story is a deeply depressed, suicidal, drug addict Elf who's lover commit suicide and he's trying not to do the same. It's an old Elf in a tavern, monologuing a lot of flashbacks and back story scenes of his youth. These stories are dark, bloody, angsty, full of drug use, murder, rape, Medieval torture, mental/physical/emotional abuse, and references to depression and suicide - no romance in it, unless you count the occasional (and usually brutally violent) rape scenes that show up in nearly every volume - sorry - no clue what Amazon is thinking or why they moved these to Romance and Erotica, but these books are NOT even close to being Romance or Erotica on any level at all. When I published these books I put them in "Dark Fantasy" and "Yaoi". If they show up in any category other then "Dark Fantasy" and "Yaoi", it's because Amazon put them there without my authorization or approval.
The 4 door white truck continues to sit at the end of my drive way (146 Portland Ave, Old Orchard Beach, Maine) near every night around sunset, reeving it's engine and squealing it's tires, with the driver yelling anti-gay threats and obscenities out the window. He continues to do the same thing at my dad's apartment building (Biddeford Maine) a few times a week, usually in mid to late afternoon time. He continues to follow me to shopping to various stores in various towns throughout the states.
Phrases he yells from the truck include:
"Kill or be killed remember Saco Shaws all transsexuals are alike"
"I keep a gun under the seat of my truck, I'm gonna use it to shoot you in the head, you transvestite freak"
if cars are going by he yells to them: "that thing is Ken's son, look at how's it's dressed; it's insane, it has autism, we can't allow that thing and it's gay cars in our family friend town of Old Orchard Beach"
He often babbles deranged ramblings about something he calls "the gay-pocalypse", raving lunacy about how "all the gays are gathering" on his doorstep. He raves some crazy nonsense about how Armageddon is coming and the war to end all wars will be "the gays against the Christians" and Christians have to be ready to "kill the gays"
My car is the Autism Awareness Car and had 2.5million marbles glued to it (I have Autism - savant - Kanner's syndrome) he claims tat my car "is gay" because of what it looks like. My car has been vandalized several dozen times, including to have the tires slashed 7 times in 6 months.
After dark often around 10PM, he stands at the end of the logging road across the street from me and shoots at my motohome (in February 2014 he shot holes in my neighbour's barn while doing this). I have video footage of 3 of his shootings at me here: https://youtu.be/NUebzJ9sz9U and here: https://youtu.be/C4dZbgG-Smw
This has gone on since August 2013 now, in addition to all the vandalism, hate crimes, pet beheadings, etc that has happened, including the bomb that blew up our house in 2006.
As you know, that whole time I had not been able to get a plate number on the truck. He as just here again, and I just realized why I could not get a plate number... there are no plates on the truck, either on the front or on the back. However, as he was driving away today... I noticed, there is a plate, stuck up in the back window of the truck, where it can barely be seen, deliberately obscured from view behind a silver tool box.
If You Like The Quaraun Series You Might Also Like:
Writing Resources I Use When Writing The Quaraun Books:
Here are some additional articles I thought you might find helpful:
NOTE: The links in this blue box, go to other authors' websites. Clicking the below links will take you away fromEelKat.comand direct you to outside websites.