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Monday, December 28, 2015

Guest Post - Juliet Blackwell

I am currently reading Ms. Blackwell's newest book in the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery Series.  The review will be posted shortly.  But today we have a guest post from the author on the research pitfalls she faces.

Of Procrastination and Secret Passages

The Internet has made it difficult to be a writer.

In the olden days (ie, before the Internet), a person might come up with ideas for stories and then sit in her garret and write, while making a list of things to look up, *later*, in the library. And then, no matter how grand the research institution, the available information on any particular topic was limited due to shelf space and the librarian’s astute eye.

Not anymore. One of the easiest ways to procrastinate, as a writer, is to tumble into the abyss of the Internet. And I’m not talking about those known time-wasters like social media sites or cute films about cats. In this instance, I’m talking about legitimate research.

Case in point: in Give Up the Ghost (#6 in the Haunted Home Renovation series), San Francisco contractor extraordinaire, Mel Turner, stumbles onto secret passages in the Pacific Heights mansion she’s renovating. Do you have any idea how much time a person can spend on the subject “secret passages in old homes”? Try putting the topic into your search engine – but if you’re anything like me, only do so if you have a few days to spend reading and checking out the photographs.

There are secret passages used to escape and hide, and others used to spy on and kill people – don’t miss the “Murder Castle”, if you have a strong stomach (click here).

There are hidden bookcases (seriously, who among us hasn’t always longed for a secret passage in a bookcase?), trap doors, secret bunkers, smuggling tunnels, and hidden wine cellars (click here.)

*Honestly*. How is an author supposed to decide which kind of secret passage to use for her novel? The possibilities are endless. Finally, I turned to the architectural era of the house Mel was working on, built in the late 1800s. Fancy Victorian homes built at that time often had simple “secret” panels that led to narrow interior hallways. Usually these stretched between ballrooms or reception areas and quiet reading rooms or cigar parlors, presumably so the owners of the home (the men, mostly) could slip away from dull gatherings or noisy soirees and enjoy a little peace and quiet.

Of course, sometimes the passages were built “to confuse the spirits”, as in the case of the Winchester Mystery House (click here). But that’s a whole different web search, and another full day lost to pictures and articles, plus –in my case – a day trip to San Jose for a visit!

How about you – anyone secretly longing to stumble on secret passages every time you visit an old home? Have you ever seen – and dared to walk through—an actual secret passage?

If so, I’d love to hear about it. And if not – check out the Winchester Mystery House. They’ve got several!
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you once again Ms. Blackwell for this delightful post.

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Anonymous said...

This sounds like a definite time-sucker, but in a fun way!!

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