My current work in progress begins in India. The hero, alas, is court martial-ed unfairly and forced to resign his commission. He has no choice but to take his half-caste children to England before he… Never mind, that’s a story for another time. He returns to England. My challenge became how to get him there, and how to sustain a story that included what would have been a six month journey. Trust me when i say I got him there and I am busily resolving all his issues, and the heroine’s too. They are almost ready to let the walls separating them from happily-ever-after down. Here are a few scattered examples of the many things I learned along the way.
- Government House in Calcutta was a massive piece of ostentation, designed to radiate British power and intimidate all comers. The lions over the gate just added to that impression.
- The hero would not have worn Khaki in 1835.
- It took six months to sail between Calcutta and England going around the Cape of Good Hope and Capetown.
- Travel by steamship to England cut out four months of travel, but it required going overland from Suez to Cairo.
- The August meteor shower, the Perseid, was first identified as emanating from the constellation Perseus, a fact that gives it its name, in 1835.
- Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo was called Hotel des Anglais when it opened.
- The percussion pistol, introduced in 1820, was a big improvement over the flint lock, but bullet cartridges that took full advantage weren’t in widespread use until the 1860s. They were still very effective in the 1830s.
Meanwhile, having gotten them to England, there has been family to address and a villain to resurrect. The hero and heroine have unfinished conflict to resolve. I had better get to it so I can get this manuscript to beta readers. But first, coffee. And perhaps a Christmas cookie.