It’s always a strange day when I begin to clean up after finishing up a book. Precious yellow sticky notes get taken off every flat surface with a six-foot radius of my computer. Dogeared Google maps and images, curling at the edges from being tacked on the wall all summer, get pulled down. Research books that I’ve had at my feet for four months and have been tripping over, get shelved. Imaginary people whose birth dates and addresses and fears and quirks pepper my work space, are shooed away to some equally imaginary vacation spot so that we can have a rest from each other.
It is like the day after the wedding of someone you love. There are cake crumbs everywhere, and programs, and confetti, and sticky spots from unknown spills. It’s messy, but you had a great time. You want to get the place cleaned up and back to normal, but still, it was a beautiful wedding and you were glad to have been a part of it.
Today, I am cleaning up after the wedding. Finally. The book has been done for a week and I am finally feeling like I am back on the planet.
For the last several months, I have had a toe in present-day Manhattan and another toe in sixteenth-century England. My present day character, forty-something Jane, owns an antique store on the Upper West Side. Her world is beginning to crumble all around her and she doesn’t know why. My sixteenth-century character, Lucy, is a dressmaker to Lady Jane Grey, a teenager who sat on the throne of England for a mere nine days before her world also crumbled.
I dovetailed their two stories, linking them together with a token of the past; the kind of token an antique store owner might stumble upon. It was a wonderful odyssey, actually, writing this book, and even though there are cake crumbs everywhere and I am so ready to get out of these wedding clothes and into something comfortable, I had a great time playing time traveler.
Between now and the time this book releases (Lady in Waiting, WaterBrook, Fall 2010) I will post a few comments on what I learned along the way. Today, I shelved Tudor Costume and Fashion, an 832-page tome I stubbed my toe on more than once. But what a fun book to risk injury on.
Just listen to the description of a pair of gloves belonging to Henry VIII: “They are of soft buff leather, with cuffs or gauntlets of white satin divided into eight panels, each embroidered with flowers and leaves in coloured silks and gold thread. Each panel is edged with gold-spangled lace and lined with rose-coloured silk. Round the wrist is a ruching of the same coloured silk with gold lace.”
And those were probably just the everyday gloves.
Today, I can stop thinking of farthingale hoops and passamayne and stomachers and ruffs. Like I said, I am ready to re-enter the world of flipflops and capris.
But it was a lovely wedding. . .