top of page
  • Writer's pictureHeather Moll

I look up weird stuff

Research is a big part of writing historical fiction, especially if you value authenticity as much as I do. My background is in libraries, and archives and records management, so this is one of my most favorite parts about writing. Plus, it’s a neat way to feel like I’m being productive even if I’m not actually writing anything. In my upcoming release An Affectionate Heart there were three weird things that I had to research. Actually, there were a ton of things I researched, but I'll just highlight a few.

  • What does a particular type of cough sound like? I searched through nineteenth-century medical treatises and even contemporary WHO documents. But instead, I found a nineteenth century description of something even better: “When the second stage (of consumption) is fully established…it is not uncommon for (what is expectorated) to possess a peculiar sickening odour which when highly developed resembles that of a newly plastered room.” Gross! But terrific detail.

  • What does a rider do if their horse bolts? I read a lot of equestrian articles and poked around on a few horse-related forums. I learned that horses have personalities, like Darcy’s horse in An Affectionate Heart, and I had to learn why they bolt, how to make it realistic to have an accomplished rider with a trained horse who bolts, and what would that rider do to regain control. A reader of an early draft asked if I rode horses because what I described was exactly what you should do if your horse bolts in an open space. I’ve never ridden a horse in my life.

  • Since I feature jewelry in every full-length novel I write, I settled on something different: mourning jewelry. I have a book on Georgian jewelry that was helpful and I visited the blogs of antique jewelers and looked at museum collections of mourning jewelry. This was a time where portraits were a luxury, and to have something commemorative and personal was a powerful thing. I learned about the symbolism behind things like urns and willows, and that pearls often symbolized tears. I did decide against having anyone have a piece of jewelry made out of hair, though.

How much historical accuracy do you like in your hist fict? Did you ever come across something in a book and want to learn more about it?

41 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All



Interesting. But didn't really need to know about that smell. Hopefully we will never experience it. I don't ride horses but do understand about their personalities. And I do look up on the internet various things I come across in books. With the Kindle app on my PC that is easy to do.

Heather Moll
Heather Moll

Me too! I read mostly historicals so I look things up all the time.

bottom of page