Susan here, researching a new medieval novel and looking through my bookshelves and files for research notes and books on falconry and hawking–I’m returning to those scribbled handwritten notes, books on falconry and some new books on the subject, putting together a plot spin. I love revisiting old research and adding new to it, wandering a bit to see where it goes–so I’ve been peregrinating through the falconry notes. The new book, part of my new Highland Secrets series, involves a white gyrfalcon, considered the most precious and valuable of birds in the Middle Ages, the privilege of kings to own and fly–but the Scottish hero finds a gyrfalcon, a royal bird, and decides not to return it, putting his very life at risk. The first book, The Scottish Bride, will be out in April. More about that soon! (photo – Ladyhawke, fabulous movie)

In renewing my research, I came across some photos taken several years ago when a friend and I flew hawks for a day, and when I visited a local falconer to meet his trained goshawk as part of my research. The photos brought back the feeling of what it’s like, even briefly, to fly hawks and be around birds of prey. The research filled out the story for The Hawk Laird (my newly revised edition of the original Laird of the Wind) and other medieval stories. Later the falconry research added detail and content to Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter and other  books.

Experiential research is a great way to add layers to the writing of a story–I’ve flown hawks, shot arrows (and caught them!), trained with swords and weapons, taken harp lessons and more. I love the chance to try for myself what I’m researching for characters and story, discovering details I might not learn otherwise. (Susan with a Harris’s Hawk)

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