Here is a list of books, music, and other things that were useful to me in my research. As I work on more books for the series, I will update the list.
BASIC REFERENCE BOOKS
This book was a Christmas gift. Yes, most word processing software will provide built-in tools like this, but the old-fashioned printed book is a great resource to have.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
Just like the thesaurus, it is another hard-copy version of an online tool. Sometimes, the old ways are best.
The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage: Second Edition
Some may argue that I did not use this book nearly as much as I should.
Merriam-Webster's Pocket Rhyming Dictionary
This book was recommended in a copywriting class I recently took. It's just fun to have. I admit I have not used it yet.
Polite Society at Home and Abroad: A Complete Compendium of Information upon all Topics Classified under the Head of Etiquette. Mrs. Annie R. White, 1891
I bought a box lot of books at an auction, and this book was in the box. It is an interesting read.
The Jane Austen Cookbook, Maggie Black & Dierdre Le Faye
The Through the Mist series begins in 1801. What did people eat then? This book was a fun read. I have not tried any of the recipes, though. The recipe for "Plaice and Flounders" does not sound very appealing.
In addition to recipes, it has sample menus. Fascinating.
Scotland: The Story of a Nation, Magnus Magnusson.
Whisky Wars, Riots, and Murder, Malcolm Archbald.
Scotland: A Concise History, Fitzroy MacLean
Excellent resources for Scottish history.
Jane Austen's England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods, Roy & Leslie Adkins.
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, Daniel Pool.
The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, Margaret C. Sullivan
I relied heavily upon these books. It is understatement to say life today is different from two hundred years ago. We take a lot for granted. These books familiarized me with the customs, the day-to-day life, of the time.
Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants, Alison Maloney
The book is set in a different period than my books. However, it provided insight into the viewpoint of servitude.
Clans & Tartans of Scotland, Iain Zaczek
The book contains pictures of tartans for various clans along with a brief description of the clan. Larger clans like the Campbells have expanded sections. It is a fun book to flip through; I am not sure how accurate the tartans are, though.
Scotland, David Lyons
A true coffee table book, it shows wonderful pictures taken throughout Scotland.
Noble Houses of Scotland, Charles Wemyss
This book was invaluable when I designed Castle Fion.
The Scottish Country House, James Knox
A wonderful book of photographs and history of several great Scottish homes. Pay particular attention to the chandelier at Dumfries House.
Great Houses of Scotland, Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes
Another wonderful book of photographs of Scottish homes. This book offers a bit more history than the previously-mentioned book about Scottish homes.
Fashion in the the Time of Jane Austen, Sarah Jane Downing
This small book is an excellent resource for the clothing worn by fashionable men and women of the period.
Jane Austen in Context, edited by Janet Todd
A collection of essays by various authors, the book provides a deeper look into the history behind Austen's work. It provides information about her life as well as how her work was received during her time. It also offers historical and cultural information about the time, which is the real reason I bought the book. It covers everything from dress and manners to religion and politics. Each topic is covered in a concise essay.
A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1800 to 1900, edited by Trevor Griffiths and Graeme Morton
This book is a great reference source. It too is a collection of essays by various authors. It offers loads of information about life during this time period. You can find similar work for other periods, if you are interested.
Adele - 19, 21, 25.
Her albums are wonderful. Her voice is amazing. The album 25 will be played a great deal while I write the second book, particularly track 10.
The Chieftains, Voice of Ages.
What a great album of Celtic music. Pay close attention to track four. Can you guess the '80s film that heavily used that song, mainly as an instrumental piece? Hint: Holly Hunter sings part of it during one scene.
Loreena McKennitt, The Visit.
I first discovered her music when I walked past a shop in downtown Asheville and heard Bonny Portmore on the sound system. I asked about the artist's name. I had not heard of her until then.
Her music has a mystical quality to it. Bonny Portmore is a lovely track, until you learn about the source. Then, it is rather sad.
Still, her albums are good background music. Check out The Book of Secrets and An Ancient Muse.
Outlander The Series: Season One Soundtrack Collection
The soundtrack is just as good as the show. The Celtic music is very stirring and appropriate for the books I write.
Are those knives in the picture??
Yes! The one on the left appears on the cover of the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. It is a handmade blade from Scotland. It has the most beautiful carvings on the blade.
The other knife is a sgian dubh. I found it at Celtic Charm, a great shop in Fernandina Beach, FL. They import items from Scotland and Ireland. I wanted a proper sgian dubh for some time, so I was tickled with the purchase. The handle is made from deer antler.
Check out this documentary series - Great Estates of Scotland, by PBS.
Divided into four episodes, the series profiles four Scottish estates - Rosslyn Chapel, Kincardine, Dumfries, and Inveraray Castle. You can watch it for free if you have Amazon Prime.
Watching the series helped me create a floor plan for Castle Fion. I could imagine what the rooms looked like and envision how Malcolm Campbell would have arranged certain pieces to impress his English guests. I highly recommend the series. You'll no doubt see where I came up with some ideas for Castle Fion, particularly the state dining room.
The Biltmore House
Located in Asheville, the Biltmore House is a grand estate built by George Vanderbilt. While the house was built in a completely different time (and country) than the setting for my own work, it offers a glimpse at the extraordinarily grand estates of the filthy rich. The feeling of the Biltmore House is evocative of the fictional Tinberry Hall, a place I will create in the second book of the series.
In July 2018, I had the pleasure of visiting Scotland. I travelled extensively throughout the country and visited many of the places used as inspiration for the series. It was heaven. I cannot wait to go back.