by Carola Dunn, guest blogger
Last week I finished writing my 52nd book, A Colorful Death, the second Cornish mystery, which also happens to be my 20th mystery. I'm about to start on the 19th book in my Daisy Dalrymple series (just as the 18th, Sheer Folly, comes out, and the 17th, Black Ship, goes into paperback). Not only do I have to come up with plot, setting, and a whole bunch of new characters as well as a host of returning characters, but I have to switch my head from the 1960s (Cornish mysteries) to the 1920s (Daisy).
For some reason this is more difficult than I ever found it to move from the Regency to the 1920s. For many years I dwelled in the early 1800s. I used to find myself using Regency terms in real life late 20th century America. Then I took up with Daisy and for a while I was writing both 1920s mysteries and Regencies. I rarely found myself confusing the language of the two, perhaps because both language and mores changed so much in the intervening hundred odd years. Great though the changes were between the 1920s and the 1960s, the two
periods were much more similar in many ways.
Perhaps another part of the confusion is that the main character in the Cornish mysteries, Eleanor Trewynn, is in her early 60s and so was actually around in the '20s. She's not so old-fashioned (having spent her life travelling the world) as to use '20s slang still, but she's not going to use '60s slang either, or at least not without a certain self-consciousness. Yet other characters around her have to speak the contemporary lingo.
So how do I travel in time? I've found the best way to get inside the language and mind-set of a period is to read the fiction of the period. I have a lot of early Sayers, Christie, Wentworth, and others, but I've reread them too often, so yesterday I spent 2 1/2 hours in the city library hunting down 1920s mysteries and non-mystery novels. Came out with Gladys Mitchell, John Buchan, P.G. Wodehouse, E.C. Bentley, E.F. Benson (if you don't know Lucia, go and make her acquaintance now!), Freeman Wills Crofts and R. Austin Freeman. A few evenings cuddled up with a cuppa and a book and my head will be right back where it needs to be.
Simply ripping, darling!
Come and visit me on Facebook, my website: www.geocities.com/CarolaDunn/ and my blog: http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/. My Regencies are all available as e-books in various formats at www.RegencyReads.com.