Plants vs. Winter: The Origins of English Conservatories
Your ruthless Viscount patron has commissioned a heinous new poison. Your stores of toxic cuttings and seeds are running low and the backyard garden is blanketed with snow. Dear assassin, how will you grow the plant ingredients you need?
This dilemma developed while writing my historical novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, set in the early 1500’s England. Yes, my assassin could have simply harvested a sufficient supply of seeds and cuttings during the previous fall. Yawn. She could have purchased supplies from a shadowy figure in the alley. Instead, I had her bartered for access to a solarium.
Since my character exists in early Tudor England, like a good historical fiction author, I began research period solariums only to find the word didn’t exist until about the mid 1800’s.
A quick find and replace later, my assassin’s solarium transformed into a greenhouse.
Problem solved, right? Find out from my guest post at the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog
Finding Writing Inspiration From History
Engineers, Authors and Assassins – Thriving in a Nontraditional Field.
Men have accomplished most “firsts” in history, but there are some notable exceptions. A woman invented Kevlar. A woman discovered pulsars. A woman wrote the first computer program. More surprisingly, the world’s first serial killer belonged to the more “fragile” and “demure” gender.
I first came across that fact last fall: the world’s first serial killer was a woman.
The statement struck me. Even as a modern, non-traditional gal, it contradicted my expectation. My mind pondered what had motivated a female from Gaul to pursue such violence in AD 54. What possessed Locusta to reach so far beyond expectation, to fulfill her sadistic cravings with poison? Where would she have learned her craft? How would she have honed the alchemy? The musings manifested in my historical fiction thriller, Apricots and Wolfsbane.
While outlining the novel I set in Tudor England, I realized 16th century society would have shared my same expectations in this regard. And in a field where clandestine activity is required, a female assassin probably used being underestimated to her advantage.
I’m blessed to live in a century, and country, where the opportunities afforded to women are nearly boundless. (Of course, I would never condone an illicit career in real life.) As an aerospace engineer and a flight controller in Mission Control, I am grateful to the generations before me who knocked down so many barriers and enabled my career.
But today’s society still carries expectation and I know what it is to be underestimated. Raised to believe I could do anything, this was an animosity I didn’t foresee when I selected engineering as a major. I never expected to encounter prejudice.
Continue Reading at Women Writers, Women’s Books
The Life and Bizarre Death of “Necro-Entrepreneur” Locusta, the World’s First Known Serial Killer
Little is known about the world’s first serial killer, which is perhaps why accounts of Locusta’s death are . . . eccentric?
Here’s what we do know: Locusta hailed from Gaul, the outer province of Ancient Rome now known as France. Trained in herbs, she mastered the system of “patronage” and made a name for herself as a reliable assassin – or as Dr. Katherine Ramsland calls Locusta’s business, “necro-entrepreneur.”  To Locusta’s benefit, Rome brimmed with wealthy, would-be-patrons, eager to hasten the death of rich relatives. These clients also reliably bailed Locusta out of prison when events didn’t unfold per plan.
Continue Reading at Dirty, Sexy, History