Anchors to real histories

The Table Rappers series was never conceived to be absolutely historically accurate, but making solid connection with genuine, recorded events has helped to anchor the stories with a greater sense of realism.

I must admit to some trepidation during early development of the stories and characters as to how much research I would have to do regarding the period. Thankfully, the amount of detailed information regarding the Victorians and Edwardians is huge, so the task proved less daunting than I expected.

[aside]More than a hundred vessels were wrecked [/aside]

I wanted to avoid glaring historical errors, those that might throw the reader out of the story and break their connection with it should they have a basic knowledge of the period. But I never anticipated just how anchored some of the stories would become to real events.

Bad weather

I have just been writing a short story for the Casebook Files, in which a number of alleged supernatural objects were brought into England from distant lands (I’m trying not to offer spoilers). Based on the ages and scant timelines of the main characters, the optimum year for this importation was 1860.

A little research and I found that a great storm hit the east coast of England on May 28th, 1860, “More than a hundred vessels were wrecked and there was ‘lamentable loss of life’ with at least 40 people killed.” A perfectly sinister welcome for these objects arriving in England!

A whole novel around a date

The first two Table Rappers novels were originally conceived to take place during the autumn of 1903. The core concept of the second, A Shot in Time, was conceived around a particular, real individual who, though very well known at the time, would become notorious during the following decade. In the story, I provided this individual reason to be in England and therefore the opportunity to cross paths with the book’s main characters.

Once I began to dig deeper into that time for specific details I might use, I discovered that the very event I had conceived (or at least something very much resembling it) really did happen, in November the previous year!

I shifted Persistent Spirit and A Shot in Time back to 1902. Aside from date-relevant details such as dialogue mentioning years past, I had to change some minor references to the monarchy, the weather, vehicles and a gun (based on its date of release).

As a result of this shift, I uncovered an unsettling synchronicity surrounding one event in Persistent Spirit.

With the recalculated dates, the event turned out to be set on Wednesday the 15th October 1902, and I had already written the scenes with heavy rain for that day – the rain had some relevance to what plays out. The unsettling discovery revealed that London’s weather for October that year had been recorded as “Rainfall was mainly light during the month, but over 8mm fell on the 15th”.

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