Today as well as a review of a new book, I’ve got a great piece on historical research from the author, Steve McHugh. He’s sharing his thoughts on researching and some of the things he investigated in the course of writing his new book – No Gods, Only Monsters.
Diana, the Roman Goddess of the hunt, lives alone on the far edge of the Roman Empire. When an old friend arrives looking for help, Diana finds herself thrust back into her old life, and old problems.
With innocent lives caught in the crossfire, Diana realizes that the only way to ensure the safety of her friends and loved ones is to do what she does best: hunt her enemies down.
Historical Research – Steve McHugh
I love research. Not to put too finer point on it, I can get lost in research as I descend that rabbit hole into a world of stuff I probably never needed to know. My brain is full of pieces of information that was useful for a tiny fraction of a book and is now just taking up space that would probably be better served by something useful.
I’ve spent most of my life being a fan of ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and the like, and I’ve read countless books on the subjects, so when it came to actually writing a book on the subject I was all set to go. Except not really.
Here’s a short list of things I had to actually research as I was writing No Gods, Only Monsters:
Roman Occupation of Macedonia.
Time is takes to go from A to B by horseback.
Wild animals kept in Ancient Rome.
The History of the city of Troy.
Sign language in Ancient Times.
There are probably a bunch of other ones, and most of those were for only a sentence or two, maybe even only a few words, but they were all information I needed to know to ensure that my book was correct. Yes, the book is about magic, and Pantheons of gods, and the like, but the small details that help set the scene need to be right. Or as right as they can be with a little artistic license.
Research is a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s also a lot of time and effort for a small detail, and it’s easy to go off on a tangent and read about things you might find interesting, but actually offer little to no use for the book you’re trying to write (or maybe that’s just me).
So, yes, research is necessary, and fun, and interesting, and important part of storytelling and worldbuilding, but it’s also a black hole of productivity from which there’s no escape.
Thankfully, over the years, I’ve managed to notice the signs, usually after I’ve clicked on my tenth Wikipedia link and am looking at something which had nothing to do with the original idea.
My thoughts: this was a really intersting fantasy novel featuring gods from ancient pantheons – including Greek, Roman and Norse. I really liked the versions of the gods created here – they felt a lot more human, despite being super powered divinities, or in Diana’s case half were-bear as well.
I liked the premise too, in order to protect some mythological creatures from being exploited, Diana is asked to join Artemis, and a dwarf called Skolt, Medusa and some other brave beings to rescue some minotaurs from a cabal of gods and “heroes” with bad intentions.
This is the first in a new series, Antiquity Chronicles, featuring Diana and other characters from ancient myths and legends, which sounds like it could be very fun.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.