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"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Dec 30, 2012

Closing out 2012

I've been remiss for many months, and feel the need to offer up a year-end blog post.

In September and October I was in England. After a few days in Hampshire visiting country estates and historic gardens (all beautifully in bloom) and visiting friends, I settled in London. My reasons for being there were several--attending the Historical Novel Society's UK conference, seeing friends, and visiting several royal palaces.

I began at Hampton Court for the special portrait exhibition in which my novel's female protagonist was featured. I've been gazing at her life-sized image (normally hanging in the King's Dining Room) ever since my schooldays, and never before have I had the advantage of viewing the Duchess at such extremely close range.

The gardens designed by Queen Mary II (also a character in the novel) were looking especially lovely.

On another day I returned to Kensington Palace to explore the new visitors' centre and the current arrangement of the rooms. Here I am taking my own photo in the looking glass. The type of porcelain Queen Mary collected adorns the mantel.

A crucial scene in my story takes place at this very window!

Posing with Queen Mary.

The conference was terrific. I spent time in the Manuscripts Room at the British Library, where I accessed letters referring to the Duke during his time in Vienna before and after his participation in the Siege of Belgrade.

According to some sources, the pudding has been associated with Christmas since about the 1670s, although it contained raisins and other dried fruits rather than plums. Thus, the people in my book would have been familiar with a precursor to this Christmas Day treat in my own household:

More to come in 2013!