Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Joys of Research

Trace your Roots aids research in all kinds of ways. Read how it helped author Cathie Dunn when she wrote her novella, Silent Deception.

As a writer of historical novels, conducting research is hugely important. You have to get it right to be believable. I love historical research, browsing books, leaflets and credible websites. But yes, it can also be distracting, and I often end up reading for the rest of the day, jotting down notes.

Apart from a range of history books about England, Scotland and Italy, you’ll find a detailed account about medieval France (en Fran├žais!) as well as several booklets from local historians in Scotland on my bookshelves. These came in very useful when I needed more in-depth information about medieval Normandy and smuggling in Glencoe in the 1700s.

But sometimes, you stumble across a piece of information you haven’t expected. I love it when that happens.

One such example is a detail about marriage laws in the 19th century I stumbled across whilst reading Maureen Vincent-Northam’s detailed guide, Trace Your Roots. I was interested in it as my own roots are so varied, and I wanted to learn more about how to track them. My ancestors came from different places: Germany, blue-blooded French Huguenot, Scotland, Ireland and Sweden. And although Trace Your Roots deals primarily with British ancestry, the tips can be used for searching in other countries as well.

But the guide didn’t just give me plenty of pointers for my personal search - it also provided me with details I discovered would come in handy for the novella I was writing at the time, Silent Deception. You see, whilst it is set in the mid-1860s, the back story is about a young woman being married off in the early 1800s to a man she loathes, all the while she’s in love with a young nobleman. Thanks to this little gem of a book, I discovered that the law on Marriages and Divorces changed in 1857, giving women slightly better chances for obtaining a divorce (though they still had to prove their cases, unlike men!). I dug a little deeper and found some hugely fascinating information.

I was thrilled to include the detail about changed laws, and another about marriage licenses, gained from Trace Your Roots in my novella. In my eyes, this added another layer of historical depth - which is what I love about writing historical novels.

So, if you write historical fiction, be open to any information you spot, however unimportant it may seem at first glance. It might just be the missing piece that binds the storyline together...

Cathie Dunn writes romantic suspense & adventure set in Scotland, England and Normandy. A hobby historian, her focus is on medieval and Jacobite eras. 

She has two historical novels published: Highland Arms, a Scottish romance, and Dark Deceit, the first in The Anarchy Trilogy, a medieval adventure.
Recently, Cathie self-published Silent Deception, a romantic gothic novella set in Victorian Cornwall. All her books are available on Amazon. 

Cathie lives in Scotland with her husband and two cats and currently works on a contemporary romantic suspense set in Idaho, US, and a medieval Scottish romance.

Where to find Cathie:

Monday, 1 October 2012

Visiting your ancestors

Have you ever visited the places your ancestors came from? This is something I always enjoy doing, even if it’s just walking around the town they once lived in; sometimes I’ve have nothing more to go on – having gleaned this sparse info from an old census. I try to make a point of visiting the parish church, as this is where many important events would have taken place (baptisms, marriages and burials).

If I’m lucky, the census or other documentation will reveal a fuller address which enables me to track down the house, or at least the street where my ancestors’ lived.

A few weeks ago, I took myself off to the lovely Wiltshire town of Chippenham where, according to the 1881 census, my great grandmother was born. At the time the census was taken, Rachel Peace was 14 years old and living with her family in Twerton, Somerset. 

That’s the great thing about consulting these records – they tell you each family members’ birthplace as well as where they were living when the census was taken. And of course, I just had to hunt down the street listed in Twerton where – on 3rd April 1881 at least – my great great grandparents resided with Rachel and their other children. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Tracing sales

Well, maybe not tracing sales exactly, more 'keeping an eye' on them.

Since Trace your Roots came out in ebook format we've been in the number 1 spot in our categories no fewer than three times, which is extremely pleasing and just goes to show that people are happy to research their ancestors in all kinds of ways.

If you fancy downloading a copy to your Kindle device or the free Kindle for computers, here's the link!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Now an e-book too!

TRACE YOUR ROOTS has gone digital! You can now download it as an e-book for your e-reader.

If you don't have a Kindle, it can be downloaded to the Kindle for PC (a free version of the e-reader that, like it says on the tin, sits on your computer).

A little while back, I reviewed this neat piece of kit and you can read what I said about it HERE.

Get the all-singing all-dancing Kindle version Trace your Roots HERE.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

London Book Fair 2012

It all happened around two months ago now but the effect the London Book Fair has on authors and everyone else in the publishing industry continues to filter through long after the Earl’s Court spectacular closes its doors for another year.

With many hundreds of companies exhibiting their new books and thousands more literary professionals doing business over the three-day period, it was great to think that Trace your Roots was there on the Greatest Guides stand (even if, unfortunately, I couldn’t be).



Saturday, 19 May 2012

An aid to creative writing

Can Trace your Roots help fiction writers? Author David Robinson believes it can. Here he tells us how it got him digger deeper into his characters' history.

All writers keep some research books to hand. But why would a writer of fiction keep a copy of Trace Your Roots nearby?

When Maureen sent me a copy of Trace Your Roots, I thumbed through it and tried one or two of the suggestions. Behold: within the space of an hour or two, I’d tracked down both sets of grandparents and their respective weddings, my father’s birthplace which had always been subject to some doubt, the births and marriages of several uncles and aunts, my own birth record in the parish registry and my brother’s.

I was suddenly interested in tracing the family line, but… I’m a writer. Somewhere along the line, I have to turn out the words. Hobbies like genealogy must take a back seat, especially when you’re sitting dangerously close to publication deadlines and you still have another 20,000 words to find.

It was only later, as the pressure eased, that I realised Trace Your Roots had another possible use.

The mainstay of my work is crime fiction, usually from a private detective point of view. How many times has Joe Murray needed to make a link between characters A and Z? How could Alex Croft have dug out the descendants of The Great Zepelli and narrowed down his search for TheHandshaker?

How do you conduct those kinds of searches? To be honest, until I read Trace Your Roots, I wouldn’t have had a clue. Now I have. I know how that person can be traced, I know how Joe can track down the heir to the fortune he’s stumbled across, and I know how Alex Croft can tackle the search for Julius Reiniger in post war Britain.

Taking a wider view of the matter, there have been novels written where the hero/heroine specifically searches out family history in an effort to come to terms with present problems. How much easier is it to produce that kind of work when you have all the research to hand in one volume, and I could see this working in most genres from romance to horror.

Maureen didn’t produce Trace Your Roots as a handbook for writers, but as a handy guide for budding genealogists, but like thrifty, “waste not, want not” devotees, we scribes can turn any book into a useful tool for our researches.

David lives and works as a novelist on the northeast outskirts of Manchester, England. He is a prolific author, having produced works in cosy crime, psycho-horror, sci-fi and humour. 
Visit David’s website HERE

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Royal connections

We are thrilled to be appearing in the latest addition of the Townswoman.

The magazine of the Townswomen's Guilds.

Having been approached by the magazine's editor to write for their 10 top tips feature, I needed to come up with ten helpful tips on finding your roots.

Not a problem:
Trace your Roots is bursting at the seams with useful information, tips, weblinks and addresses.

The task was simple and writing for the magazine was a great pleasure.

Everyone's family is unique: why not discover more about yours?


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Featured in Writer's News

I have a spot in the June issue of Writer's News / Writing Magazine where I talk about Trace your Roots. The piece begins... 'Genealogy isn't all cerebral slog...' and it's true. It's a great pastime and can be huge fun too - ask anyone who's done it!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Guesting on Susan Jones' writing blog

I'm featured over on Susan Jones' fabulous writers' blog today.

Sue, a successful writer and poet, allowed me to talk a little about Trace your Roots and how it came about.

Find the post HERE

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Launch day interview

Officially launching Trace your Roots today with a party over on Facebook.

Here's a link to an interview I did with friend, co-author of The Writer's ABC Checklist and humour columnist for Writing Magazine, Lorraine Mace over on her blog.