I'm so pleased to introduce Alana White whose novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, is being released this month from Five Star/Cengage.
Alana is originally from Kentucky, but traveled a lot as a child with her Air Force family. She was always "the new kid in school," and over the years libraries and reading became a comfort to her. Her favorite historical mysteries remain Ellis Peters' medieval England Brother Cadfael series.
She worked on The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, her debut historical mystery novel, for a number of years and is currently writing the second book in the series. Alana's main character is Guid'Antonio Vespucci, a Florentine lawyer, who investigates crime in Renaissance Florence with his nephew, Amerigo Vespucci, at his side (this is before Amerigo set off toward the New World). She lives in Nashville with her husband, their sweet Schnauzer boy and his nemesis, BO, the Big Orange cat.
Confessions of a Research Junkie by Alana White
Apothecary Luca Landucci's A Florentine Diary is one of my favorite resources. On 25 March 1480 Luca recorded how on that day a religious painting was brought to Florence from a nearby Tuscan town for the spring celebrations. Luca's note inspired me to "use" that real painting of the Virgin Mary as the one seen weeping in Guid'Antonio and Amerigo Vespucci's family church, causing all manner of havoc, in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin. Subsequently, during a visit to Tuscany I saw the actual painting for myself, which then led to its description in the book.
But there is a flip side to this coin. Research is a time-eater. It provides the excuse we writers sometimes use to do anything but continue the hard work of writing our story. Which brings me back around to Lorenzo de' Medici, who wrote in a poem, "Too much knowing is misery." Well, it certainly can be. For once we writers have all this fascinating information at hand, whether the details of how autopsies are done, or the particular hue and design of a spectacularly lovely Renaissance dress, how do we keep the information at our fingertips, or at least nearby?
How about you? Do you have any tricks or tips regarding research (or any material that is important to you, really) and how to harness it, if not quite wrestle it to the ground?
Thanks, Alana. It sounds like an addiction to research is pretty darned important for those who want to write historical novels. I find it hard enough to keep track of each character's appearance, habits, background, and speech patterns.
For more information about Alana and her work, visit her website.
And please check out these great reviews for The Sign of the Weeping Virgin:
*STARRED* Kirkus Review ~ “One hopes that White’s clever tale, meticulously researched and pleasingly written, is the first in a series that will bring Florence and its many famous denizens to life.”
Publishers Weekly: “Fans of historical mysteries will thoroughly enjoy this chance to visit the Italy of 1480 in the company of real-life historical figure Guid’Antonio Vespucci, a Florence lawyer. Backed up by sure-handed storytelling and scrupulous research into the period, White creates richly evocative descriptions of Renaissance-era Florence certain to please the amateur historian and armchair tourist.”
Library Journal: “Intrigue and danger . . . White's debut Renaissance mystery is overflowing with historical details and fascinating subplots . . . the author's knack for describing settings is stellar. Ian Morson writes historicals with a similar tone.”
And don't forget that any comment on any post this week on this blog gives you another entry for my giveaway of an NCW 2013 writing planner. See the details here.