Sam Julian
Sam Julian asked Yangsze Choo:

What is your research process like, and how do you check your work for historical accuracy? Can you describe an instance when you decided, for dramatic or plot purposes, it was better to overlook historical precedent?

Yangsze Choo Hi Sam,

"The Ghost Bride" is set in my home country of Malaysia, so I was quite familiar with the setting and history which helped when I got started. My uncle used to live in the town of Melaka which is where the book is set, and when I was a child, we used to go and visit the ruins of the Fort, as well as the old shophouses that still line the streets of this historic town. You can still see the open grave where the body of St. Francis Xavier was briefly buried before being disinterred and sent back to Goa - I always thought that was very eerie when I was a child!

In terms of historic events, the book happens to be a domestic drama that occurs within a great household and also in the world of the dead, so fortunately there weren't any specific external incidents that I had to reference, or overlook. I was very thankful for that, as I can only imagine the notes and cross-references involved if one were writing a novel like "Wolf Hall"! That being said, I read a lot of historical sources about colonial Malaya, as well as British traveler's accounts of the roads, layout etc. of historic Melaka. Museums such as the Peranakan Museum in Singapore, which had some fantastic batik sarongs on exhibit as well as Peranakan household items, and the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur were also helpful in reconstructing domestic life at the time. And of course, there were always the oral histories and ghost stories passed down by family and friends!

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