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Tourist of the Past

I’ve been in England for almost three weeks. I’m heading home tomorrow. Jason was with me for the first 10 days, while we were tourists in London, and since then I’ve been on my own in Bristol, exploring the city where the first seven chapters of my work-in-progress A Roll of the Bones is set.

Problem is, the book is set there in 1610, and I could only visit in 2018.

I would, of course, love actual time travel if it came with a guaranteed return ticket (no way am I getting permanently stuck in a world without flush toilets, hot showers, or chocolate bars). But until that technology exits, the struggle for the writer of historical fiction remains: you can never really visit the places your stories are set, because those places exist only in the past.

If it’s the recent past (as with several of my Newfoundland historical novels) you can at least talk to people who lived at that time, look at old photographs, listen to stories. But going farther back — say, to the early 17th century, as I’m doing with A Roll of the Bones — there’s no-one left alive who remembers it, and no photographs. Some descriptions in very, very old texts. A few maps. But no way to get back there.

So all the while I’ve been researching this book, especially while in England, I’ve been poking at the edges of the past. That might mean spending time in recreated 16th and 17th century kitchens, whether that’s the kitchen of a palace …

 … or of a labourer’s cottage:

It’s also meant watching modern stonemasons at work on repairs to a cathedral, using tools very similar to those that would have been used 400 years ago:
And it’s meant standing on the deck of a replica ship, imagining how it would have felt with the sails unfurled, pulling away from Bristol’s docks down the Avon river to the sea and then across the ocean to an unimaginable new world:

Fortunately, there are many places dotted around England (and Wales, where I visited the wonderful National Museum at St. Fagan’s) where you can explore little bits and pieces of the past. And Bristol itself, while very much a twenty-first century, still retains some of the cobbled streets, old buildings, and other bits and pieces that allow you to step through a gate into — not the past, exactly, but a place where you can briefly imagine you’re there.



Quote Unquote

Several years ago, on this very blog, I wrote an angry rant about the trend of literary fiction writers dropping the use of quotation marks. In the years since, I still haven’t embraced the trend, but I’m maybe a little less angry. I decided to use my latest Shelf Esteem video to explore this phenomenon and see how widespread it really is. It does get a bit angry at one point, but only at Cormac McCarthy.


7 Reasons Why This Traditionally-Published Author is Releasing a Self-Published Novel. Number Four Will Blow Your Mind!

This summer, I’ll be releasing my novel What You Want, a work of contemporary fiction about three unlikely friends on a road trip, as a self-published e-book. There’ll be a paperback release later, probably sometime in the fall.

What would convince me, as a writer in mid-career who has had 23 books published by traditional publishers, to self-publish a novel? You’ll be amazed by the answers!!

1. I have run out places to spend or store the piles of cash I made from traditional publishing.
As we all know, there’s a TON of money in traditional publishing. Authors can make as much as one or even two dollars for every copy of a book sold, and with small publishers like the ones I’ve worked with, that can run into three and even four digits! It’s just not fair for one human to have so much wealth at her fingertips.

2. I need a break from the paparazzi.
The book trade is glamorous but exhausting. I’m sure you’ve all read blog posts and tweets from your favourite authors complaining about how tiring it was when they went on that nine-city book tour and had to be up at five to do morning television and come back to the hotel room and ice their hand after signing 3000 books in two hours. I myself have gone on tour to locations as exotic as Mount Pearl and even Conception Bay South. I have spoken to groups of up to sixteen people and signed as many as five books in an afternoon. A gal needs a break from that kind of adoration.

3. Matt Damon is bugging me to know if he can star in the movie adaptation.
We all know that some writers have achieved mind-blowing success with books that started out as self-published works. Let’s take E.L. James for example. Wait, no, let’s not. Let’s take Andy Weir, whose book The Martian, originally self-pubbed online, not only became a bestseller when it was picked up by a traditional publisher, but is now being made into a movie starring MATT DAMON. MY MOVIE BOYFRIEND. So apparently, self-publishing a book will lead directly to me meeting Matt Damon. I can’t draw any other conclusion, can you?

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So, I kind of fell down on posting the Women’s Suffrage Trivia Questions here on the blog. I ended up posting five photos with trivia questions on Facebook, and had many readers playing along there, but I fell behind here on the blog. It turned out that having your new book come out the same week that you start teaching classes at school is … kind of a lot to have happening. And now that we’re into the third week of school, and the book is more-or-less out there (still on its way to some bookstore shelves), things are still, well, kind of hectic. But the main thing is, the book is out there. Ish. And I apolog-ish for letting the blog fall a few days behind, but I did have a contest winner, and Edwina now has her free copy of the book, and I’m hoping a lot more people will be reading and enjoying copies of it very soon.

I’ll post book-related updates here as I’m able, but an even better place to look is on my official website, www.trudymorgancole.com . If you click on “Events” you’ll find out when and where I’m reading from and signing the novel, and I’ll post links to reviews and interviews under the “Press” tab. I’ve also created this page which has links to a lot of information about the historical background of A Sudden Sun, so you can check that out too!


Women’s Suffrage Trivia, Day Two


Here’s today’s WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE TRIVIA QUESTION (I can’t really call this a Fun Fact):

NAME THIS FAMOUS SUFFRAGIST! She is probably best known for the circumstances of her death in 1913, when she stepped in front of the King’s horse at Epson Derby, sustaining injuries that led to her death four days later. The reasons why she did this have been debated for, well, a century now, but the consensus seems to be that she was attempting to disrupt the event and draw attention to her cause — possibly by throwing a “Votes for Women” sash around the horse’s neck, though this theory, like everything else about the incident, is controversial.

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Women’s Suffrage Trivia — Day One

All this week I’ll be posting trivia facts and questions about how women won the right to vote, in honour of my novel A Sudden Sun coming out later this week. I’m not sure how exactly I’m going to work it out but there will be some free books involved for at least some of those who participate, so check either here on the blog or on Facebook if you have me on Facebook for a daily trivia post/question about women’s suffrage. Here’s today’s trivia question:


This woman, Kate Sheppard, fought for women’s right to vote in the country which in 1893 became the first self-governing country in the world to give ALL women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. NAME THE COUNTRY!!