Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Research Heavy Novella by Lucy Felthouse


My Timeless Desire novella, Love Through Time was a first for me in a couple of ways. One, it's my first novella. I started out writing short stories and am building up to longer pieces, and this was my first. Two, the tale turned out to be quite research heavy. As a contemporary short story writer, I don't have to do much research at all for my stories. Love Through Time, however, was determined to be different.

My novella is a veritable smorgasbord (I've always wanted to use that word) of genres. It's a contemporary, historical, paranormal, erotic romance. If you're wondering how it can be contemporary and historical, perhaps I should explain. There are historical elements to the piece, with references back to the past, which is where much, but not all, of my research came in.

The main character in the story, Emily, is a book conservator. This is where some of my research came in. I needed to know enough about what book conservators to do to clean and protect books to talk convincingly about it in my book. After Google didn't come up with much of help, I turned to Twitter, and also sent an email off to The National Trust (a charity in the UK that looks after stately homes, historical sites, archives, etc). Luckily for me, the answers that I needed came through pretty quickly and I was able to continue writing.

Another element of my research was to do with the historical elements of the piece. Without giving too much away, World War II is mentioned – so I had to do some fact checking before I mentioned certain events. Also, I needed information on photography, i.e. what sort of photographs were taken and when, and when colour photography was introduced in the UK. Google, Wikipedia and Twitter again helped me out here. What would we do without them?

Add in the visits I make to country houses for pleasure (Love Through Time is set in a country house) and you have yourself quite a lot of research there. But I enjoyed every minute of it, and I hope that the resulting story gives as much enjoyment to readers as it did to this writer.

*****

Westbury Manor is a stately home with a fascinating past, and when book conservator Emily Stone starts uncovering it, she's startled by what she finds . . . .

Emily arrives at Westbury Manor with a job to do. She's to clean and conserve all of the books in their impressive library, preserving them for future generations. Not long into her stay at the house, she bumps into the night guard, George. She'd expected an old, balding guy with a comb over, so the hunky chap she actually meets is a very pleasant surprise. The introductions complete, George leaves Emily in peace to get on with her job. But when a falling photograph sets off a chain reaction of ghostly events, Emily and George are thrown together in order to find out who—or what—is causing them. Their investigation uncovers a tragic past, a lost love, and a stunning secret.

Excerpt:

Emily received some strange looks and frowns from the people she passed as she walked across the graveled drive toward the front entrance of Westbury Hall. She could appreciate their confusion. It was closing time for the stately home, and the last of the visitors were being politely ushered out of the building, yet she was heading inside. She'd been invited. She had a job to do.

An elderly lady stood in the porch, smiling and nodding as she held the door open for those departing the hall. Most of them seemed in no hurry to leave, stopping to make comments to the woman at the door, thanking her for a lovely visit and so on. Emily waited patiently to the side, allowing the patrons to leave before attempting to enter. When the staff member—most likely a volunteer, Emily thought—caught sight of her, she gave her a polite nod of acknowledgment.

Finally, the last of Westbury Hall's visitors moved out, leaving Emily free to enter. Climbing the single, stone step to the threshold, she took the hand already offered her.

Shaking Emily's hand with a surprising firmness, the woman said, "You must be Miss Stone." Her smart appearance and the intelligence in her eyes indicated that despite her age, she was far from past it. "I'm Mrs. Thompson, house supervisor."

"I am," Emily replied, dropping her hand back to her side, "but please, call me Emily. It's lovely to meet you. So, house supervisor? Do you live on site?"

Indicating Emily should step inside the entrance hall, Mrs. Thompson proceeded to close and lock the porch and front doors of the house, securing them in.

"I do," the older woman said, turning back to face Emily, "I have rooms in a separate building just off the back of this one. So you needn't worry about me disturbing you."

"Oh no," Emily said, worried she'd inadvertently rubbed Mrs. Thompson the wrong way. "I didn't mean that. I was just curious. You're more than welcome to see me at work, Mrs. Thompson; although, I'm afraid you won't see anything terribly exciting."

Mrs. Thompson smiled now, the warmth reaching her eyes. Emily sighed silently with relief. She'd yet to see the extent of the work she had to do, but she'd been told it was no easy task, so she could be here for some time. The last thing she needed was to upset any of the staff.

"Oh, you'd be surprised, my dear. This is a fascinating old place. Of course, all these old houses have history, but Westbury Hall's is particularly rich."

Emily smiled. The woman's enthusiasm was infectious. "Well then," she replied, "I can't wait to learn more about it. I hope you'll feed me full of historical tidbits while I'm here?"

Mrs. Thompson gave an enigmatic smile. Then, startling Emily somewhat, she turned smartly on her heel and walked deeper into the house. "Come, my dear, I won't hold you up any longer. I'll show you to the library, where you'll soon start uncovering Westbury's illustrious history for yourself."

*****
Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Noble Romance, Ravenous Romance, Summerhouse Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour and Seducing the Myth. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

13 comments:

mnjcarter said...

Sounds like you did quite a bit of research for this one! That's quite a few genres mixed into one book. Definitely makes me want to check this story out!

mnjcarter@charter.net

Lucy Felthouse said...

Glad you like the sound of the book, mnjcarter! I hope my research paid off - would love to hear what you think if you read the book :)

Kathryn Merkel said...

I'm a firm believer that learning is never wasted, which is why my friends refer to me as the fount of useless knowledge or occasionally Brainy Smurf. If they didn't smile when they said it, I might have to take offense.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed reading the post. How you researched for your book was an interesting read.

Thanks,
Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Andrea said...

I always enjoy hearing about the story behind the book. I look forward to reading this one.

ainfinger(at)comcast(dot)net

Carol L. said...

The research an Author does for historical reads or time travel involving the past is always beneficial for us readers. I thank you for it. This is definitely my kind of story and look forward to reading Love Through Time.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Gabrielle Lee said...

Wow lots of research. I love the idea of tis book and can't wait to read it.

Gabrielle
meingee@yahoo.com

desitheblonde said...

the info you do and it take time but the book come out and then it will do good and then you will like the results of sale i love the cover o f the book

shadow_kohler said...

Interesting post! Thats quite a bit of research you have to do. Your book sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing! Happy (early) Thanksgiving! ;)
shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

Nancy said...

Please enter me in this contest. Thank you. My email address is npl42011@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the blurb.
Patricia
panthers.ravens@yahoo.com

Lucy Felthouse said...

@Kathryn - ah yes, I'm full of that kind of knowledge too. But it's good fun to learn, isn't it!? :)

@booklover0226 - thanks Tracey, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It was good fun to write, too :)

@Andrea - thanks! I hope you enjoy it!

@Carol L. - thank you. It was only a touch of the historical, but it was still great fun to research and include in the story.

@Gabrielle Lee - I'm glad you like the sound of Love Through Time, Gabrielle. I'd love to hear what you think if you read it! :)

@desitheblonde - thank you. The cover artist did a fabulous job, as always!

@shadow_kohler - thank you! I'm glad you liked it. And Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! (and everyone else celebrating it)

@Nancy - you're entered into the contest, Nancy. Thanks for commenting!

@Anonymous - thank you! I hope it intrigues people enough to buy the story! :)

Lucy Felthouse said...

Thanks again for your comments, everyone! I used a random generator to choose a winner. Congratulations go to.... booklover0226! I'll be in contact soon about your prize.

All email address left will be entered into the main prize draw, too. Good luck!