Why on earth would one do research for a fantasy novel set in an imaginary world? You make it all up, right?
Well, sort of. But it has to be believable. Which sounds weird, but if the world is not internally consistent, then the reader loses interest. One way to make a pre-industrial society of a fantasy world believable is to know how people used to do things way back when in our world. Actually there I have a head start over many younger writers. I saw my mother make soap/butter/cream/jam/ginger beer/ out of raw ingredients, or gut a chicken, or trim a lamp or darn the heel of a sock or cook over a wood fire. I saw my father skin a sheep, hang a gate, use a whetstone, milk a cow, build a house with only the simplest of tools and so on – all sights most Westerners never see any more.
When I moved to Asia there were other things to see or to learn: using a hand turned grindstone to make flour, winnowing rice, grating coconuts the traditional way, using a loom, weaving mats by hand, using leaves as plates and countless other ways of living with the natural and making do without the manufactured.
However, if I do need information outside my own knowledge, I delve into one of these two books by John Seymour. A wonderful source of info on everything from making a wooden bucket, or an ice house, or a birch broom to what are the contents of a tinder box.
I am going to continue this theme in my next post…and show you some more of the texts I am dipping into for my next books.