By the Numbers!

Difference-engineAndrea here, musing on a question we authors get a LOT from readers—where do you get your inspiration for a story? Well, in the case of my Wrexford & Sloane Regency-set historical mystery series, the answer is science. Okay, okay, I know that doesn’t sound sexy. But . . . um, actually it is. Allow me to explain.

Murder at Queen's Landing-smallThink of all the techno-thrillers today—be it in books, movies, television—that are based technology and its effect on our lives. We’re all aware of what a hold technology has over us—and yes, it’s scary! Thus authors and screenwriters can use that to their advantage. But the idea of technology as both Good and Evil is nothing new. So I’ve had great fun using technology as the main plot point in my mysteries. The latest book in the series, Murder at Queen’s Landing, which releases in September, is no exception! I’ll get to that in a moment, let’s take a quick overview of the subject.

 

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A Shocking Discovery!

Murder at Kensington PalaceAndrea here, musing today on a very “shocking” topic! Ha—now that I have your attention, I shall explain! I have a new release coming out on the 24th. Murder at Kensington Palace is the third book in my Wrexford & Sloane Regency mystery series, and the plot involves electricity!

The voltaic pile (basically the first electrical battery) was invented by Alessandro Volta in 1800. As often happens in the world of invention, the discovery was sparked by a disagreement he had with Luigi Galvani, another man of science who had discovered he could make the legs of a dead frog “jump “ when they were used to form a circuit between two different type of metal. Galvani claimed he had discovered animal electricity—an electrical fluid inherent in the frog itself.

1280px-Luigi_Galvani_ExperimentVolta believed the reaction had a more rational explanation than that, and set about creating a chemical electrolyte (the fluid that creates the circuit between two different metals and thus an electrical current.) He soaked cloth or cardboard in brine and spaced them between disks of zinc and metal—and lo and behold created an electrical current! By adding more disks and electrolyte pads, he discovered he could make a voltaic pile more powerful.
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This awesome new discovery was hugely exciting to the scientific world during the Regency. In London, people flocked to the Royal Institution, one of the leading scientific organizations of the time, to hear lectures and see demonstrations of voltaic batteries.

 

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Art, Murder and Science—Regency Style!

Murder at Half Moon Gate-smallAndrea/Cara here, MURDER AT HALF MOON GATE, the second book in my Wrexford & Sloane Regency-set mystery series, releases on March 27th, (it's available for pre-order) and I thought I give you all a little backstory on what inspired the series, and on the specific theme in this upcoming book.

The series is inspired by two fascinating developments in the Regency. First is the birth of modern science in Britain—the spirit of curiosity, analytical observation and creativity. (I confess there is a certain irony about me writing about science, as the last formal class I had in the subject was ninth grade biology.) I now really regret not realizing how fascinating science is, but better late than never!

Humphry-Davy-1The second was the sense of camaraderie between scientists and artists during the flowering of the Romantic movement. They saw each as kindred souls, exploring the nature of life and the world around them. The Lake Poets attended scientific lectures at the Royal Institution and Percy Shelley was captivated by astronomy. In turn, Humphry Davy, the great chemist, wrote poetry. They cross-pollinated each other and helped each other see things from different perspective. I thinks it’s part of the reason for the great energy and excitement in both disciplines.

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Seduced By Science!

Royal_Institution_-_Humphry_Davy
Andrea/Cara here
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using on science today. I confess, given that my academic expertise in science ended in 9th grade biology class (you know, the one with formaldehyde, dead frogs and very sharp knifes!) it might strike you as rather strange that science plays a big role in the plot of Murder on Black Swan Lane, the first book of my new Regency-set mystery series, which hits the shelves next month. Allow me to explain . . .

Antoine_lavoisierI have an art background, which may seem like the polar opposite from the world of laboratories, microscopes and bubbling chemicals. I thought the same thing until I read The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes a few years ago. In it, he talks about how during the Regency era, the artists and scientists all thought of themselves as kindred souls. For them, exploration and discovery in any discipline required imagination and creative thinking. Painters, poets, chemists, astronomers—they all shared a passion for pushing themselves to think outside the box.

MBSL cover-hi res smallHmmm, I thought . . . these are just the same qualities required to unravel diabolical mysteries. So it suddenly struck me that having a scientist and an artist could be a really fun combination. In the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane, I’ve sought to create two lead characters who embody the intellectual curiosity—and gritty courage—of the times. They are opposites: a brooding aristocrat whose extraordinary mind runs on the rational new principles of scientific inquiry, paired with a struggling artist whose innate cleverness and intuition are the keys to her survival. Forced to work together, Wrexford and Charlotte find they make a formidable team, despite their differences. (Ah, but as science tells us, opposites often attract!)

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High Tech—Regency Style

Difference-close-upCara/Andrea here, I’ve recently been doing some research into scientific history, and among the many fascinating facts I’ve discovered is one that may surprise many Regency aficionados. We all know the era was a time of fancy balls, elegant soirees and country house parties . . . but did you know that it also saw the invention of the first computer!

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