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Of Carrion Feathers by Katherine Pym

contrast cloudscape, dramatic sky just after storm
One weekend, while my sister and I visited, we both admitted we were intellectual snobs, but we had one fallen virtue in common: we both read historical romances.
How hard could it be to write one? I ventured, so we agreed to co-write a historical romance novel. We pondered on an era, and decided on the French Revolution. By the end of the weekend, we settled on the hero and heroine, some of the plot, but neither of us knew anything about the time frame.

My sister went home, and I took to the library. I found some really good books, mostly of Danton and Robespierre. While I read through those heavy tomes and took notes, I saw a picture of Camille Desmoulins, a pamphleteer and journalist whose real life reads like a tragic love story.The historical romance concept dropped from my thought processes. I scoured libraries from across the nation (book lending) until everything blurred. Historical texts always fill the pages with government decisions, not the people who gather to make those decisions. Not all research texts have correct information. I found inconsistent time lines, out of order facts, and not a lot on Camille Desmoulins, so I sold everything lock, stock, and barrel, and moved to England, a nation that had been around during that time. Newspapers, journals, and historical texts should have something America did not. I wanted new and more interesting material.

Almost immediately, I found what I wanted, and in the months that ensued, The First Apostle was born.I digress, but not a lot…
One day, in between chapters of The First Apostle, I went to the town centre, grocery shopping. While there I wandered into a used bookshop and found a full set of Samuel Pepys diary. I bought it, and took it home, but did not read it until the French Revolution novel finished.Once done, I opened the first volume of the diary, and began to read. So many books with such little writing of everyday mundane stuff. I was overwhelmed. I had to find out what the whole was before I could understand the detail. I needed to learn early modern England’s language so I could see through layers of how good folk handled the incredible change that marked the Restoration.Current events packed every year of the 1660’s decade, from religion to advancement in the sciences. There was so much excitement, change, and confusion. I decided to write a novel per year, until the great old town burned to the ground in 1666. This meant my research had to deal with a particular year. I could not write of Isaac Newton in 1660 because he was still a youngster, and in school. I could not write of the rake Rochester because he didn’t come onto the scene until mid-1660’s.
So what happened in 1660 vs 1661, or 1662? In 1660 the king returned from exile, and in 1661 he was crowned. There had to more, so my head went down once again into mighty tomes, and found it amazing what you learn doing research.I read a comment from one man to another he was perplexed so many women came to him to beget children. It astonished him a large amount of men within London’s city walls must be impotent or sterile, and wondered what was wrong with the air. Ding! Stud service.

I took that and used it in Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage which takes place in 1660. Then, I found during the time, there was a great deal of misunderstanding of the rules of marriage, so the crux of Viola’s story is her clandestine marriage is a sham, and her husband a bigamist.
It’s usually the small statements while researching that make the difference. One day a footnote in tiny print, brought about Twins, my second novel (London 1661). There was a superstition that a man can sire only one child at a time. When a woman gives birth to twins, she was clearly an adulteress. Ding! Another novel.

The twins (a boy and girl, which makes it worse) must deal with this all their lives, but the story also involves a London merchant’s life, how he handles the loss of a ship in the Mediterranean to pirates and local corruption.

So, we come to London in 1662, and Of Carrion Feathers, the reason for this little essay.

I found a volume on espionage during Charles II reign which was really very informative. I also found another little story where bakers could be dishonest. I created a bakeshop as a den of nonconformist plotters against the Crown, and the heroine in this story is Beatrice Short.

Beatrice is a reflection of my mother who was a slightly naughty person. She was brilliant, and bored, an artist and a poet, and she drove my dad crazy. I love her for her beautiful soul and creativity, her bohemian nature, and her great sense of humor.Beatrice wants to go into the theatre, (King Charles II brought back the French way of theatre, which allowed women on stage.), but she is a servant and can’t afford to pay for music and dance lessons. She stumbles into the Crown’s burgeoning spy network, and her first duty is in a London bakeshop.

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