Some people feel at their most relaxed playing sport, others sit watching their favourite television programme; some read, or knit, or sew, or hang-glide, or do whatever it is that floats their boat (including boating), to help them feel, well, like themselves!
I do all these things (apart from the sport, hang-gliding, boating….) OK, I hardly do any of it. I read a lot, watch a bit of TV sometimes, and I can knit when I need to, but what I really like to do, to feel totally at peace and 100% me, is to hide in a room- preferably one that smells ever so slightly musty- that is filled from top to bottom with old books and maps. Not just a library- but an archive.
I admit, it’s not the most obvious place to find inner peace, but for me, to be able to immerse myself in a haven of historical documents is escapism of the highest quality.
To be lost in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls from the fourteenth century (which contain land purchases, and criminal records), or to pour over old maps, records of births and deaths, to feel the satisfaction of tracing the life, death, or (more frequently for me), the criminal career of a figure form the past, is both absorbing and fascinating. It’s like being a time-distanced detective in search of an elusive story from a character long departed. Or perhaps I’m just an eccentric… (No need to answer that!)
Recently, I had the great pleasure of being take to visit the wonderful resource, the Devon and Exeter Institution, by the ultra lovely, Michael Jecks (yes-THE Michael Jecks!!). This beautiful building houses a historical heaven, and I have every intention of getting back there to soak up the ‘dusty book’ atmosphere at the next possible opportunity! Just being there made me want to write a medieval murder mystery on the spot!
For me, one of the joys of writing Romancing Robin Hood, has been revisiting many of the historical texts I grew to know and love (and a few I’d happily never see again- the handwriting was so challenging), when I initially researched the real historical criminals of the fourteenth century for my PhD. I have been like a pig in muck, like some jelly in custard, like my daughter with a pile of chips…. you get the idea!
Not that you should expect Romancing Robin Hood to be set in the past- well, not completely in the past. But with its leading lady, Dr Grace Harper, a lecturer in medieval studies who has a serious Robin Hood obsession (and who only technically lives in the present day), how could it be anything but a half modern/half fourteenth century tale…
The release date has been set for October- then you’ll see!
Happy reading everyone…