Christine has been kind enough to offer me a blog spot on Irish Firebrands to promote the book tour of Jewel of the Thames, so here I am!
One of the reasons Christine and I are such good virtual friends is our keen interest in research and our overwhelming need to get our facts straight, so when she suggested this blog post be centred around that topic, I jumped at the chance.
In doing my research for this book series, I had several elements swirling around my head:
- Time period: the books begin in 1930
- Locations: Portia lives in Toronto, travels from New York to London where she sets up her new home.
- Language/patois: Portia is Canadian, but for most of the book, lives in London.
My approach was varied, but included reading as many books as I could find written between 1925 and 1940. I extended that to include speeches written in the time period, specifically British political speeches (though I am of course cognizant of the formality of the language in such writing).
I then sat down to watch some beautiful movies – first going through the ones actually created in that time period – Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder!, Birds of Prey, Caste, a really bad Titanic movie called Atlantic and many many more. I then added on movies set in the ’30s but made in the years since, especially enjoying (and taking lots of notes) through Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day with Frances McDormand.
Once I felt I was immersed in the right language, fashion and sensibilities of the time, I set to writing.
Oh, you thought that was it? Oh no my friends, as Christine can attest, it is in the writing that more questions come up and more research is needed. Every few pages I found I had a question as to the words Portia was using or the vehicles she would be passing, or the time it would take for a ship to get from NY harbour to Great Britain… the list goes on an on.
I followed my instincts, hit the library, the internet, my friends, anyone who could answer a specific question, and then I blogged about it, because that is my routine.
If you’re interested in the research that went into any of my casebooks, you can read all about it (ad nauseum!) on my website aportiaadamsadventure.com. Everything from travel times and distances, to clothing and perfume available in 1930 to the best ways to write a coded message.
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in Portia Adams, my young detective in Jewel of the Thames, and thank you so much for having me, Christine!
You’re very welcome, Angela! Best wishes for your writing career, and for Portia’s detective career! ~ Christine