Guest Post by Cheryl Carpinello, Author of Tutankhamen Speaks

I'm happy to be a part of the tour for Cheryl Carpinello's book, Tutankhamen Speaks. Cheryl joins us today to talk about research and to offer a chance for you to win a gift card. Thanks, Cheryl! And now, take it away...
Researching Historical Fiction: Determining What Type and How Much To Do
By Cheryl Carpinello

Many writers struggle with this, including me. Unless you’ve built your own world, it’s hard for most authors to physically visit the places their characters live. If you’re a writer of historical fiction, like I am, it is impossible to transport readers back to those time periods without extensive research. So far, I’ve written in two time periods: 400-500 Medieval England and 1330 BC Egypt.

For my first two Arthurian stories set in Medieval England, I started with guidebooks and maps—both modern and historical. I used these to get a sense of the landscape, which may have changed a bit, but not that much over the centuries. I also have an extensive library of books on this time period, which I used to take notes on people, customs, eating habits, and so forth. In the beginning, it was impossible to know what details would be essential, so I kept a record of almost everything.

For my two Ancient Egyptian stories, I fared much better as I’d actually spent three weeks in Egypt prior to writing Tutankhamen Speaks and Sons of the Sphinx. However, I spent months reading up on life in 1330 BC Egypt and taking copious notes on ancient lifestyles, customs, religion, food, and King Tut. I still poured over ancient maps to get the lay of the land, but the over 500 pictures I took in Egypt allowed me to visit once more—in full color—all those places that would appear in my stories.

In both time periods, I focused on the five senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell—to place my readers in the locations. Also, while the physical aspects of people may change over the centuries, the emotional makeup of all people stays the same. As a writer of historical fiction, I just transported the emotions of love, fear, guilt, and any others I needed to the time period.

Now, I’m writing my third Arthurian story. I still have all the research from the previous books, but I also have first-hand experience after spending three weeks driving around the UK. So, I am able to add those 600+ pictures I took to the wealth of information for my Arthurian stories yet to come.

If a writer is unable to visit the modern version of their time period, these days it is possible to do so virtually via applications like Google Earth. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to add first-hand experiences to my research. And in the years to come, the pictures of my visits will be a valuable resource for my stories.

About the book:

Long ago the old texts of ancient Egypt alluded to scrolls in which King Tut spoke to the people from beyond the tomb. Many archaeologists put this down to an incorrect translation of the ancient Egyptian texts. Others swore to the accuracy of the translation. But, Tutankhamen Speaks isn’t a story about the lost scrolls. It’s about the story written down on that ancient papyrus: Tutankhamen's story.


About the author, Cheryl Carpinello:

I am a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those young-at-heart to read more through my Quest Books set in these worlds.

Also please visit my other sites: Carpinello’s Writing Pages where I interview Childrens/Tween/MG/YA authors; and The Quest Books where I’ve teamed up with Fiona Ingram from South Africa and Wendy Leighton-Porter of Abu Dhabi to enable readers to find our Ancient and Medieval quest books in one place.

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  1. Great guest post. I've wondered how historical writers do it. I've only gone a few decades back in my writing, which is what I know. I'd like to transport myself and my readers further into the past.

    1. The idea of researching a time and place I'm unfamiliar with is overwhelming to me. My hats off to writers who can do this well!

    2. Hi Medela. Thanks for stopping by. I love the ancient/medieval worlds and that makes my researching more fun than work. I'm always reading in those time periods, be it fiction or non-fiction. It can be overwhelming so I always make sure I'm focusing on certain areas.


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