History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

20 October 2008

Books Inspiring Real Life

All Kathrynn’s talk about horses and pets and the personalities of pet owners really got me thinking about the pets I give my characters (and the pets I, myself, own). Anyone who’s read LORD SIN has “met” my heroine’s Italian Mastiff, Caesar. He features pretty prominently in the novel, and even makes a guest appearance in LORD SCANDAL. I thought long and hard about what kind of dog to give George. I wanted something LARGE, protective, and extremely loyal. I also wanted the dog to be slightly unusual, but entirely plausible. So I picked a dog that we know has existed pretty much forever (the Neapolitan Mastiff) and had it be a gift brought back from someone’s Grand Tour.

England, of course, has it’s own giant breed, known simply as the Mastiff (or sometimes as the Old English Mastiff, for the sake for differentiating it from all the other mollosar breeds).

My 1819 Dog-Fancier’s Companion describes the Mastiff thusly: The Mastiff is much larger than the bull-dog, and every way formed for the important trust of guarding and securing the valuable property committed to his care. Houses, gardens, yards, &c. are safe from depredations, whilst in his keeping. Confined during the day, as soon as the gates are locked, he is left to range at full liberty. He then goes round the premises, examines every part of them, and by loud barkings, gives notice that he is ready to defend his charge.

I recently got myself a couple of puppies . . . they’re Bullmastiff and Neapolitan Mastiff (an accidental breeding which I’m happy to have lucked into), so I’ve been thinking fondly of Caesar lately. I’ve also been sleep-deprived and covered in drool, LOL! That's my boy, Clancy, pictured above (11 weeks, 28lbs!).

Anyone else out there find that their books inspire their real life on occasion?


Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Kalen, what an adorable puppy! I would love to have a dog but I'm not home enough to give one the time and attention, he or she deserves.

So far, my manuscripts haven't yet inspired my real life, but there's always time!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Evangeline Holland said...

Many times, lol. I even took a fencing class this past spring to get a feel for fighting scenes. Granted, I'd always wanted to fence, but now I had a reason to. Now I just need to keep it up.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

I've never had a dog, and when my best friend read my website bio and noticed a recent revision to it, to wit: that I was considering getting a dog, she started to laugh.

You?? she asked me, imagining me waking at dawn to walk the dog in my perennial high heels. But there's only one kind of dog I've been fixated on owning, and I've mentioned it here in the past: I've developed a thing for King Charles Cavalier Spaniels.

Why? I love the Restoration and King Charles's court. I love to write about the era, though to date I've had to "confine" myself to nonfiction because no one is biting yet on the fictional topics I've pitched.

Also, Emma Hamilton, who I "embodied" in the first person POV of TOO GREAT A LADY was painted by Romney holding a Cavalier (though the snout was longer then than in today's breed). That portrait was the first of hundreds that Romney made of Emma, back when she was the sixteen-year-old Emma Hart and the mistress of MP Charles Greville. I actually have quite a respectable copy of that canvas; an original oil painted by an artist from Brooklyn who fell in love with the original (and Emma) and wanted to attempt to recreate the Romney. I saw the framed portrait in a 57th Street window and negotiated its purchase with him. I love having "Emma" hanging in my office now! The original, of course, hangs in the Frick in NYC.

Of course I know that I would name my Cavalier "Nell" for Nell Gwyn, King Charles's favorite mistress.

And, I suppose that my art is informing my real life today ... I've just finished the first draft of my entry on Victoria & Albert for my wip on notorious royal marriages and as I'm up in Boston today, staying at the Langham Hotel, I just made a reservation for Afternoon Tea!

10:57 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

I write erotica. Does it inspire real life? Yes, of course it does. Mine AND (I'm deeply proud to report) the real lives of some others as well. Absolutely my favorite reader responses -- and probably the most happiness I've brought into the world (if you don't also count my wonderful son).

12:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

ROFLOL, Pam. Your response is too good.

Spaniels are a little too high maintenance for me (their level of excited energy is a bit exhausting), but King Charles really are very sweet. The pups were playing with a couple at the park this weekend (as well as a host of other dogs, wolfhound puppies, great danes, pit bulls, German shepherds, Frenchies, bulldogs, even a newf and a leonburger).

I do find that having practical, firsthand experience with a lot of the stuff my characters do is really helpful. It just seems easier to “remember” and write about something than to “imagine” it out of nothingness (esp when we’re talking about something physical like fencing or riding).

1:12 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Oh yeah, real life inspires my writing. Especially animal encounters, or encounters with not so pleasant people. ;-) or strange souls. They all provide the fodder of a really good story with great characterizations.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Kalen, Clancy is darlng. I bet the puppies are so cute together. Baby animals (including the human variety) may be exhausing, but they are so much fun.

As for my books inspiring real life-- I have a lot of empire-waisted dresses (not period reproductions, modern dresses with a Regency-ish details) and Regency reproduction furniture and jewelry. I've been known to order Spanish or Portuguese wine on the grounds that I need to know what the wine tastes like when my characters break into a wine cave on the Peninsula and broach a barrel. When I was at Disneyland last year, walking through the entrance to the Indiana Jones ride, which feels like an underground passgeway, I felt as though I were in a scene from "Beneath a Silent Moon."

2:12 PM  
Blogger Susanna Fraser said...

What a beautiful puppy, Kalen!

la belle, I too am taking fencing classes as research! I'm in my second month of epee classes (which my studio uses for beginners instead of foil), but I'm already casting longing glances at the sabers. I feel like it really does help connect me to Wellington (the protagonist of my alternative history), since I'm learning something that would've been a normal part of his education.

Of course, now that I've started "method writing," I want to take it further. I mean, think how much better I could write Wellington if only I knew how to ride! Pesky budget and time limitations, keeping me off horseback...

7:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Epee and saber ROCK! I like them much better than foil. They have an immediacy, a grittiness, that foil lacks. I had to give fencing up (bad knees) but I really loved it back in college.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

I studied stage combat for years, and on occasion have incorporated my knowledge into scenes. I have a work in progress where it came in handy.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Susanna Fraser said...

Epee and saber ROCK! I like them much better than foil. They have an immediacy, a grittiness, that foil lacks.

That's my admittedly very inexperienced impression! I like epee because everything is a target (insofar as I have a talent so far, it's getting people to run their wrists onto my point while trying to attack me), and I want to try saber because I like the idea of using the blade as well as the point.

2:47 PM  

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