Grab
Grab asked Juliet Marillier:

In the research and construction of your books, why kind of role does historical or technical research play, and how flexibly do you incorporate or interpret it for the purpose of the story? Your books have such detail and sense of place to feel believable and present, and still the fantasy aspects fit so seamlessly in with reality.

Juliet Marillier Very good question, Elizabeth. Research plays a part in all my books - I prepare very thoroughly. Some of my books have a far greater component of real history in their makeup (Wolfskin, the Bridei Chronicles, Heart's Blood) and some have no real history (the Shadowfell series.) Even for the more fanciful of the books I need to do research, since almost all of them occur in a time and place in real world history, even if the story is completely fictional. And I also need to research things like weaponry, clothing, society and culture, weather and seasons, religious beliefs etc, to make the world of the books convincing. I have made some errors along the way, especially in the Sevenwaters trilogy, written before I realised that even in a story containing lots of magic the reader would expect historical accuracy. I am much better at getting things consistent now. As for flexibility, it is easier to interpret history flexibly when writing about periods and cultures that didn't leave their own written records, eg the Picts (the Bridei Chronicles.) I still had to do the research, but I was able to combine known history with educated guesswork and some pure imagination. Columba's journey up the Great Glen is a case in point - historical records tell us he went on a mission to King Bridei's court, and performed some miracles on the way. This happens in The Well of Shades, but it's very much my own interpretation of the story. Which is OK because I stick to what was possible for the time and place, and the historical record was written many years after the event by someone who wasn't actually there, so it can be taken with a big pinch of salt.

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