Today I'm excited to welcome B.N. Peacock, author of A Tainted Dawn, to A Bookish Affair.
Some time ago, an article in Writer’s Digest challenged the old saw “Write about things you know.” It took the position, “Don’t be afraid to write about things you like to know about instead.” I couldn’t agree more.
Passion, a Driving Force
There’s nothing wrong about writing about things one’s area of expertise. After all, the foundation blocks are there to build upon, and the amount of research needed is less. The time required to finish the project also may be considerably less—if the passion is there. If not, the task at hand, writing whatever the subject requires, can become a grind, dragging on for what seems forever.
Contrast this with the second view. I took this approach to writing A Tainted Dawn. True, I already knew something about the era in which it takes place, the period between 1789 and 1815. I’d cut my reading teeth on Jane Austin’s works, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series. Still, I was a long way from being an eighteenth century sailor, although I do admit to having a little of the revolutionary in me. Actually, I was and am a long way from being any kind of sailor, an armchair sailor, if you will. Not only that, I’m a woman writing in what is still mostly a man’s genre.
But I didn’t let these drawbacks stop me. Why? Because I madly love that era and wanted to write about it. Not as a naval expert, which I’m not, but as someone who’d bothered to become conversant with the navy of that period and its issues. I delved into books written in that period, not only about the navy, but also about the French army, which plays a role in my book, and will play an even greater role in the books to follows. I also wanted to bring into play the political themes driving the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Yes, the heady stuff of liberty, equality, and fraternity spurred badly clothed, hungry French soldiers to victory against overwhelming odds. But there also was realpolitik; the behind the scenes national plotting and scheming on an international scale that often made chess pieces of soldiers and sailors. Quite a workload to tackle!
Break the Workload into Bits
The task I’d set myself initially was daunting. However, I came to realize that I had to narrow the scope (one book at a time) and become more organized. (To be sure, I’m still working on these, but then, aren’t most of us in one way or another.) I’d exclusively concentrate on sailing ships, because mastering the technical details often made my head feel like it was about to explode. I even went so far as to take sailing lessons, to experience firsthand what the back and forth and downward plunge of boat under sail. Then I’d read about the experiences of those who made the sea their career and those who embraced revolution. Later still, I researched the political maneuvering of the times. Whenever possible, I traveled to the sites I mention in the book. This truly brought things into focus for me.
In the end, I could have written a several doctoral dissertations out of the material I found! Hard as all this was, though, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The more I read, the more I could relate to the time and the people in it. The better, too, I hope, I could make the era come alive for others.
Bringing It All Together
I suppose there can never be enough research. Fortunately or unfortunately, there comes a time to write. I found writing A Tainted Dawn similar to piecing together a puzzle. So many shapes and colors, how do they fit, where do they belong? Unlike most picture puzzles, however, I also found I had to omit many pieces. They simply wouldn’t all fit in one book. Frustrating, yes, but then information, like scenes, often is a matter of killing your darlings. Couldn’t I find a place for that one last detail about the woman’s march on Versailles? Or what about that interesting side note on life in rural Surrey? Drat! From having too little information, I went to having too much.
Therein lies the beauty of doing a series. I just might be able to cram, I mean use, the leftovers in the next book. And if I don’t? I’ve still more than enough residual passion to motivate me to learn more!
Today I'm pleased to be able to giveaway a copy of A Tainted Dawn (open internationally)!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Tuesday, January 29
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, January 30
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, January 31
Review at A Book Geek
Friday, February 1
Review at Book Dilettante
Monday, February 4
Review at The Novel Life
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, February 5
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Wednesday, February 6
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, February 7
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, February 11
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Tuesday, February 12
Giveaway at A Writer’s Life: Working with the Muse
Wednesday, February 13
Review at BookRamblings
Thursday, February 14
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, February 15
Review at The Written World & Historical Tapestry
Monday, February 18
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, February 19
Review at Impressions in Ink
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, February 20
Review at Words and Peace
Thursday, February 21
Giveaway at Words and Peace
Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict