Share this...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Research from the Ground Up: Hannah Methwell (aka M.J. Logue)

I have been looking forward to this week's guest, Hannah Methwell. Hannah writes a historical fiction series (as M.J. Logue) set in the English Civil War - the Uncivil Wars series - which I blogged about HERE, having devoured the entire series while I was away on holiday.

What makes me particularly envious of Hannah is that she is a re-enactor. I am certain if I lived in England, I would be a re-enactor too, but alas, the Sealed Knot or English Civil War Society have not ventured downunder. I should add she is a one-eyed adherant to the Parliamentary cause and is trying to convert me...

When not attempting to redeem the reputation of the Army of Parliament, Hannah lives in Cornwall with her husband and son, three cats, and a toad under the back doorstep. 
As she says:  "There is little more to divulge, other than - "I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a Gentle-man and is nothing else. "

As this is a research post... it is only appropriate that Hannah talks to us about 'method research' - living the life of an English Civil War camp follower - which she does frequently.


I have the most unladylike wrists imaginable - broad and flat and solidly-muscled. 

Possibly, had I not learned to fight with a heavy backsword, I'd be a delicate little flower. But I did, and I'm thankful. (Not really. He's tall and fair and a bit scarred, and I'm red-haired. Probably Babbitt, then.) 

I decided when I was writing my first book set in the seventeenth century, that rather than writing randomly about stuff out of books, it might be an idea if I turned myself into one of Cromwell's plain russet-coated captains, who knew whereof she wrote and loved what she knew. 

Walking into the courtyard of a seventeenth-century inn in North Cornwall to meet half a hundred musketeers, pikemen and camp followers was one of the weirdest moments of my life. I was in a plain russet skirt and bodice, petticoats, stays, kerchief, coif, cap, latchet shoes, wool stockings. Some of them were in back and breast plate and buffcoat. Some were in officers' black, or soldiers' coats. There was nothing, at first glance, to anchor me into the present day, in that inn courtyard. Frightened the hell out of me, and in the same heartbeat, it was like coming home.

I have crawled out of a nest of blankets in a damp canvas tent in the first pearly light of a summer dawn, to bury bare feet in dew-wet grass and smell woodsmoke and frying bacon.
I have slept in a castle with the sound of the sea thirty yards below my head as the tide swept in.
I have cooked on an open fire in the rain.
I have faced a cavalry charge, and not broken.
I have fired a musket and fought hand-to-hand with a dragoon in a green field in Devon, and I didn't think the musket butt would ever be the same and I'm damn sure my knuckles haven't.
I have been preached at by a Ranter, married to a gentleman, and got drunk with cavalry officers. (Rowdy lot, they are, too.)
I've sat in an silent Elizabethan manor garden at dusk, with the bats flitting low in the air and the scent of hot grass and bruised rosemary rising from the earth as it cools.

I know Babbitt's world. I've lived in it.

For more information about the Babbit/Uncivil War books, visit M.J. Logues Website

RED HORSE - Babbit Book 1

September 1642, and the storm clouds of civil war are gathering over England. After the King raises his standard against his rebellious Parliament, idealistic young Luce Pettitt sees his duty clear - to defend the noble cause of freedom against the Royal tyrant. He doesn't expect that duty to lie with possibly the scruffiest, most disreputable troop of cavalry in the Army of Parliament, commanded by maverick ex-mercenary Hollie Babbitt. Events conspire to bring Hollie and Luce to a wary friendship, in spite of their differences. But in the aftermath of the first bloody battle of the war, will Luce keep faith with his ideals, or his friend?