Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Guest Post & Giveaway: Amy Corwin
Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Amy Corwin to the blog today! This is one of the last stops on her Goddess Fish book tour. She is here to promote her regency mystery novels, The Wild Principle, A Rose Before Dying andThe Necklace. Today she is going to talk about research.
Research: Too Much, Not Enough, or Never Quite Right
Research truly is the bain of my existence. No matter how much research I do, there’s always something I don’t know, some detail I misunderstand. No to mention the inconvenient reality that facts quite often interfere with fiction.
In the book I’m working on now, Hidden Aspects, I wanted the coroner to be able to determine the time of death with relative accuracy. Unfortunately, during the early years of the 19th century, this was not a simple matter. Medical thermometers, for example, wouldn’t be in use until the latter half of the century so he couldn’t use the cooling rate of the body. In fact, the science of forensics was in its infancy, or perhaps still in the womb, at this point.
However, on the bright side, it is much easier to find good research materials now. Even storing them is easier. I have dozens of medical and legal texts from the late 18th/early 19th century so it is much easier to include details or oddities in these fields, based upon actual material from the time. In fact, research I had done on medicines prescribed during the Regency led me to write The Vital Principle.
One of the reasons I enjoy writing historical mysteries is my fascination with the development of medicine and forensics. Modern science, medicine, and forensics frankly intimidate me, but the medical texts of the 19th century seem much more accessible. I adore weaving the medical practices, science or philosophies of the period into my books, particularly when I can use them to expose a murderer.
The beginning of the 19th century is the oddest mixture of science and superstition. Doctors still bled their patients, despite the fact that it generally only expedited their departure from this world. Many of the medicines contained downright lethal chemicals such as arsenic and even cyanide, but anything that made the patient void (empty his stomach or bowels) was considered efficacious. That’s what made the development of the scientific method: actually testing against a control group and a test group and tracking the results in a way that the experiment could be reliably duplicated, was such a significant change.
Prior to the novel idea of tracking real results, doctors and others simply used the same methods over and over again, regardless of the outcome. It’s true that in each generation, a few stumbled upon some new technique or medicine and moved the science forward, but it wasn’t until the methodical application of scientific method that we really started improving our state. Frankly, before mid-1800, you were better off being poor and unable to afford the care of a doctor. Physicians and surgeons were more likely to kill you than cure you. If you got better at all it was largely in spite of his efforts on your behalf. In fact, witch doctors were probably even more effective and better overall since they rarely prescribed poisons, drained your blood, and the value of mind-over-matter was highly underrated. It’s still underrated, even today.
Well, you can see were all this easy access to research material is getting me. I’m not a doctor, I just write about them. Coroners, too. And inquiry agents.
Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years. She writes romance, historical and cozy mysteries. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
Amy’s books include the three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; Regency mysteries, THE VITAL PRINCIPLE, and A ROSE BEFORE DYING; and her first cozy mystery, WHACKED!, will come in in 2012 from Five Star.
Join her and discover that every good romance has a touch of mystery.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmyCorwinAuthorBlog: http://amycorwin.blogspot.com
Amy will be awarding an Amazon $25.00 gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
Leave a comment or question for Amy and include your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.