Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This year I will be reading mainly...

Past visitors to ::Acquired Taste may remember that a couple of years ago I was working on a story called "Shadow Puppet", the story of a bomber pilot and the war between the imaginary realms of Lauchenland and Beruzil.

For various reasons this aeronautical tale never took off.  Now I'm returning to it in a rather different form.  The bombers are replaced by airships.  Lauchenland and Beruzil make way for the Holy Roman Empire.  And the whole things takes place in a 19th century with some major differences to the one you learned about at school.

"The Last Stagecoach"
by Vadim Voitekhovitch
A wonderful evocation of an airship age that never was

The picture above is one of a series of hugely atmospheric steampunk fancies by Vadim - to see the full range, check out his remarkable gallery here.

Real-world stories--even those set in an alternate past--require real-world research.  So what I have been reading (pretty much non-stop for the past six months)?

Airships and Flight
Zeppelins: German Airships 1900-1940, Charles Stephenson
Hanna Reitsch: Flying For the Fatherland, Judy Lomax
Disaster at the Pole, Wilbur Cross
A History of Airships, John Richards

Nuremburg Diary, G.M. Gilbert
The Nuremberg Trial, John and Ann Tusa
Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, Gitta Sereny
Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Antony Beevor
The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815, Tim Blanning
Wallenstein: The Enigma of the Thirty Years War, Geoff Mortimer
Wallenstein's Death, Friedrich Schiller (trans Samuel Coleridge)
The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire, Patrick Kinross
The Thirty Years War, C.V. Wedgewood
Early Modern Europe from about 1450-1720, George Clark
The Seventeenth Century, David Ogg
Memoirs of a Prague Executioner, Josef Svatek
Europe's Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War, Peter Wilson
The Chemical Choir: The History of Alchemy, P.G. Maxwell-Stuart
The Mercurial Emperor: The Magic Circle of Rudolf II in Renaissance Prague, Peter Marshall
Longitude, Dava Sobel
Victorian London, Liza Picard
Cassell's Chronology of World History, Hywel Williams

Some of these have been entertaining, some of them less so.  Discussing my practices with writing friends, I seem to be unusual in trying to do all of my research up-front.  I feel more comfortable knowing things at the start (perhaps because of my Mondia stories, where I needed to build the world from the ground up).

Most of my reading has been about the 16th century, which is only back-story in the novel.  But if get that firmly grounded, I can skip into the meat of my story with a light heart and a brisk pen.  The 19th century needs less research, partly because I was better informed on that to start with, and partly because I'm inventing my own 19th century rather than representing the real one.


Frances Garrood said...

An eye-watering selection, Tim! It puts me to shame.

Tim Stretton said...

The other way of looking at it is that there's a lot of procrastination and displacement activity going on...

Donna Hole said...

I have a story I'm thinking of shifting genre's to get off the ground. I don't know if its the right thing, or just the fad thing.

Good luck with the shift Tim.


Tim Stretton said...

It can be hard to leave a favoured genre. I'm hoping that this transition, which is relatively minor, should not cause too much angst!

pecooper said...

I remember, when you were first researching your novel, thinking that you shouldn't be wasting your time on bombers when you had those wonderful airships you could be playing with. I didn't want to say anything, of course. It wouldn't be polite. I'll just take satisfaction in having been right.

Tim Stretton said...

Thanks Paul!

I probably had to find my own way there, but I hope you take equal satisfaction in the end product.

lewis said...

How long does it take to research?