Since I’m obsessed with history, this page is where I’ll share extra stuff on research that fueled the Arnaud Legacy. Maybe some of you love history too?
About yew trees:
These trees have long been recognized as powerful. In pagan Ireland, they used staves of yew to measure corpses for their graves. It seems that the evergreen nature of the needles signaled some sort of endless life/immortality to ancient peoples. Check out this blog post by a fellow author about the history of yews.
About Picpus cemetery:
I came across mention of this Parisian cemetery in my research and tracked it down during a visit. The cemetery holds two massive pit graves for victims of the Reign of Terror’s guillotine. Inside the chapel are lists of the names engraved on plaques. Very sobering and moving. Finally, this cemetery holds the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was so influential in our own country’s Revolution. See my blog post for more.
I had a great time reading up on swords for Avenged, because in the opening pages an archeological dig commences. The first swords were made by the ancient Egyptians in the Bronze Age. Linking here to a fellow author’s page about sword fighting (he teaches workshops! How cool is that?!) To me, there’s something endlessly fascinating about these weapons crafted to do incredible violence, that have endured through the centuries and now reside in displays on castle walls, in museums…and sometimes nestle in the ground for construction workers to unearth.
About Elisabeth Bathory:
In Haunted, one of the characters tells Phoebe about real-life 16th century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory. She was accused of kidnapping and killing peasant girls and bathing in their blood to keep her own skin fresh and young. She was careless with the corpses, throwing them over the castle walls when she was “done” with them. Of the four servants who helped carry out the tortures and deaths, three met terrible fates themselves: two had their fingers ripped off and then were burned at the stake, and one was beheaded and his body burned. The fourth was sentenced to life imprisonment, as was Bathory herself, bricked into a set of rooms like an anchorite for several years until she died. It is said that Bram Stoker was just as inspired by her story as by the story of Vlad the Impaler in his writing of Dracula.
This French chateau was built for King Louis XIII in 1624, originally as a hunting lodge. Subsequent kings added onto it until it became the sprawling, over-the-top palace you can visit today. Of course, it is most noted for being the last place King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived and cavorted until being arrested, imprisoned and ultimately beheaded at the guillotine. Madame Arnaud, who once lived at Versailles, built the Arnaud Manor in England, using the French palace as inspiration.
Is Grenshire really a place?
Well, no. I had at one point set the novel in Grimsby, England, because it had the word “grim” in it. But ultimately I worried that the residents of Grimsby would scoff at how I’d depicted their sight-unseen city, and so opted for a fictional English town.
Interesting tidbits about the first draft:
When I first wrote Haunted, Phoebe had a twin sister named Mindy, and the character now known as Miles was called Derek. Eleanor Darrow was originally an elderly male librarian named Algernon. Later, I changed Algernon to Ernest, made him a young, gay male, and then eventually morphed him altogether to a female servant. Can I just say…writing a book isn’t easy? There are a lot of missteps and a lot of flexibility required to re-envision things until they feel right.