Stephanie Burgis
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Research (damn its eyes)
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Why is it that, the more I research, the more questions always come up? I spent this morning going through maps of Vienna, partly because (despite having lived there for 2 years), I only remember about half of the actual street names I used to walk along every day (me + geography = muddle), and partly because I needed to figure out, in a few specific cases, what was the same back in 1814 and what has completely changed since then.

So. I answered every question I had...and realized that a whole lot of other stuff I'd taken for granted was wrong - but I couldn't figure out what the right answer was! This drives me crazy. Of course, as Patrick pointed out, probably no one who reads this novel will know the real answers either...but it's like nails scraping against a blackboard for me to know I've got a historical detail wrong and not be able to figure out how to fix it! So, in other words, it looks like a few afternoons of research won't be quite the total fix-it I was hoping for...

I did spend yesterday afternoon in the university library, which made me very happy. As usual, I'd looked up a few possible sourcebooks, found out they weren't useful at all, but then found a dozen perfect ones serendipitously, just through wandering around and happily shelf-surfing. I love just walking through a place where I'll coincidentally come across someone's political dispatches from 1814, just by accident. I picked up Lord Castlereagh's correspondence from the Congress (including some lovely letters from the Duke of Wellington full of world-shaking gossip) and a book called The History of Underclothing, as well as various handbooks of historical costume, furniture, etc.

Also excellently, with the arrival of my paycheck, I ordered Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Sword today (along with Marisa de los Santos's Love Walked In)- hurrah! And I've just finished reading a really great interview with Ellen Kushner about the novel. Now I just have to wait through the next 2-3 weeks before Amazon can deliver it to me....!

And everyone should definitely listen to the wonderful Susanna Clarke short story that the BBC broadcast earlier this week. (You can find the link, with instructions, in Patrick's journal.)

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