From Patricia Rice:
Q: How hard is it not to accidentally put in something that they wouldn’t have had or known then? Do you find yourself frantically scouring reference books (or googling), muttering, "Just when was the telegraph available in the wilds of Hampshire?"
A: Oh, yeah, I’d be hunting for telegraphs, no doubt! Been there, done that, never remember the answer. It’s the tricky questions that tend to slip by—when did they quit writing with a quill? what kind of paper are they writing on in 1820? How very easy it is for those of us who have written the Regency era to assume cuffed boots might still be worn in the Georgian era. It’s just so much a part of what we write. Most clothing I know to look up because fashions change so rapidly, but something like a quill… By 1820, they had a pen, although who used it might require research, and how soon it became part of the culture is another.
Culture and language are always much trickier than inventions. We just assume all English royal weddings looked like Princess Di’s. <G> Or the word "contact" was always used to mean to write or call someone. We have to actually KNOW that this wasn’t so before we can research them.
Q: Do you ever feel like screaming "GO AWAY!" at the 3,546th fan who asks about your "process" or "where do you get your ideas"? Or even one who thinks you should know things like whether women in the 1800s shaved their legs?
A: On the contrary, writers spend utterly ENORMOUS amounts of time discussing process. We’re having that discussion on one of my lists right now. We’re fascinated with the way our brains work and what secret compartment might hide those elusive ideas. We can’t answer these questions, of course. <G> But we just adore making up opinions. The latest theory is that we keep our muses chained to the basement walls and beat them every so often… No, I think we’re supposed to feed t hem regularly and treat them to chocolate. Something like that.
I really don’t get too many people asking me difficult questions about shaving legs. I think people sense that I may be clueless. <G>