Back in August, I wrote that I would be attending Barbara Vey's Readers Appreciation Luncheon on April 26, 2014 (link). Readers have a chance to sign up to sit at the table with their favorite author ... and I asked readers to guess which author I chose. I signed up to sit with .... Eileen Dreyer! She is a dynamo in persona and a virtuoso in writing. From her bio (link),
Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world, and admits she sees research as a handy way to salve her insatiable curiosity. She counts film producers, police detectives and Olympic athletes as some of her sources and friends. She's also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, although she doesn't see herself actively working in the field, unless this writing thing doesn't pan out.
|Eileen laughs with Patricia Rice and Cathy Maxwell
Eileen is celebrating the release of ONCE A RAKE, Book Five in the Drake's Rakes series. Eileen joins us today to talk about research through travel, "It's a filthy job, but somebody has to do it."
When Research Is Really Tough
By the way, if you don't know me, you won't know that the title is tongue-in-cheek, because I'm about to talk of the traveling I do for my work. I know. It's a filthy job, but somebody has to do it. And every time the opportunity comes up, my hand is raised first.
I love to travel. Let's get that one out of the way quickly. I am fascinated by people, by places, by anything that is different from the rather predictable life I've led in St. Louis. Not that I don't love home. I do. But there's so much out there to see and hear and taste and smell.
And there is the secret to traveling for research(or researching so you can travel. The differences have long since blurred). When I was first learning to write, one of the most important lessons I learned was from Nora Roberts, and that was the use of senses. In every scene(but especially love scenes). For every character. I mean, even if all you're describing is a rainy day, each character sees it differently. One might look out and be depressed and cold and lonely. Another might see only relief from hard work, or harder sun.
But also, when you tell a story, especially one set in a different place or time, what sets your audience firmly in place and time? Senses. Taste, touch, smell, feel, sight. And the quickest, most thorough way for me to learn that, is to go there.
For instance, in my Drake's Rakes series, I have walked Mayfair in London. Literally. Every street. I know how Curzon Street sweeps downhill and then uphill. I know what Grosvenor Square looks like when the central garden is in bloom. I know how the floor of Berry Brothers squeaks when you walk in the door, and how the famous scales look like an iron chair.
For ONCE A RAKE, I also traveled to the Lyme Regis area on the south coast. Not only is it an area rich in fossils, but the flora and fauna are lush and lovely. The Undercliff, where Lady Clarke paints, is a jumble of ferns and elephant ears and bluebells tucked under oak and beech and fir trees. The cliffs are still uncertain, looking as if they will crumble away at any moment. The Undercliff itself was created when the land slipped in a previous century.
I traipsed across the ground and saw my Sarah and her family following the same paths. I wandered through Lyme with its impossibly steep streets and mismatched shops and stood before the old Post Office where not only Sarah, but Jane Austen posted mail. I smelled the sea and felt the damp air brushing against my face. I heard the chuckle of the waves as they slipped in over the shingle beach. And I saw that wonderful hot spring green carpet the fields, highlighted by iridescent yellow rapeseed fields. I felt the slow, steady pace of the region, where the ocean sets the clocks. And I knew how to walk in my heroine's shoes. (okay, the 600 pound pig she named Willoughby was just an added bonus. I had to look the Large Black breed up).
So, if I've done my job, I will have taken those steps and transferred each and every one into ONCE A RAKE so you can walk along. Let me know if you do.
|Lyme Regis by John Cummings (link)
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Mahalo, Eileen, for joining us at SOS Aloha! I enjoy reading your travels on Facebook. I am looking forward to reading ONCE A RAKE as it teeters atop my TBR pile (the pile is looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa). I am giving away a print copy of ONCE A RAKE to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,
1. Lyme Regis inspired Jane Austen's Persuasion, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, and John Fowles' The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Have you read any of these books or seen the film adaptations?
2. This giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, November 2, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 3.
Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City
To learn more about Eileen, her books, and her travels, check out her social media: