Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Feet On The Ground Research - Lucy Coats

Last month I horrified historians by Messing About with Ancient History.  This month, I hope I shall redeem myself slightly by talking about the importance of 'feet on the ground' research.

When you're chasing a historical character, trying to pin them down in a particular place, there's nothing quite like visiting sites they would have known and recognised. With most of history, that's not so easy, because a good deal of it will have disappeared in the interim. However, in Rome, history is so close to the surface that you trip over it. In my case, literally.

I was in the Forum last week, and (with my usual weather luck) it was raining. The Roman cobbles are very large, very uneven, and I caught my toe and fell over. I don't suppose I'm the only idiot ever to have done it, and now I have the makings of a ready-made scene for the new book. This sort of authentic detail is invaluable, once the bruises have faded, and would have been impossible to garner in any other way than by empirical experience. The colour of the sky, the way the river Tiber winds, the height of the seven hills, the pinoli trees - all these things are in my mind's eye now, along with the exact colour of a particular column, the way a belt hangs round a sacrificial swine's belly... and much more.

Yes, I could have looked these things up in a book, or read someone else's account of their travels, but I think the next installment of my Cleo's adventures will be all the richer for my visit - and I don't at all begrudge her my sore feet and banged knees. I even managed to find an exact copy of an Alexandrian Priestess of Isis in the Borghese Palace - just what I needed to see what robes she would have worn.

Now, if only Egypt wasn't so damned dangerous at the moment...

Lucy's new picture book, Captain Beastlie's Pirate Party is now out from Nosy Crow!
"A rollicking story and a quite gloriously disgusting book that children (especially boys) will adore!" Parents In Touch magazine
"A splendidly riotous romp…Miss the Captain’s party at your peril." Jill Bennett
"An early candidate for piratey book of the year!" ReadItDaddy blog
"A star of a book." Child-Led Chaos blog

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Lucy is represented by Sophie Hicks at Ed Victor Ltd


Sue Purkiss said...

Hope the bruises are better!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Must be nice to be able to travel for your research! ;-)