Research is very important to any project, making sure you have the information necessary to move forward into production; It gives us the opportunity to search for information we have limited knowledge on. You discover more about the project you want to advance in, maybe about the era your project is based in and how they might of lived during their time when they were thriving, or a certain technique you have limited knowledge in; researching will always help when you are in a bit of a stump.
If you have read through my different blog posts that contain research, you will get a very detailed explanation – if the title does not give it away. I make sure to always analyse my research to make it easier for the reader so they do not have to make a journey going through the website, trying to piece together what I took. With my research you will not get stumped with what my project could be about, you instantly know what it is about. However, what drags me down the most is indicating the research that was most key for my project – I intend to focus on every section that I need to research equally. With this summary, you will see which was the most important; the inspirations; the primary research and the secondary research.
The first piece of research I decided to get was learning more about Viking culture. When I first went into the project I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the Norsemen; false information. I had, in fact, limited knowledge of how the Vikings lived -my knowledge mostly coming from the popular TV show Vikings. Jorvik, a centre based in the town of Yorkshire, luckily had a website which had real evidence of how the Vikings may of lived, so I definitely trusted the Jorvik centre more than a romanticised TV show. Jorvik, during the 10th century, was the home of many Vikings, so many artefacts were left behind, meaning the archaeologists were able to piece together their lifestyles; very key for my book. While talking about their lifestyle and how they lived, they mentioned architecture (Jorvik Viking Centre, 2012) that the Vikings had around this time, useful for when I am describing the setting in the book and for my environment sketches. But Jorvik didn’t give too much information that would be more useful, like their eating habits or their clothing, so I had to move on.
Clothing was the next step: I wanted to draw different clothing variations, so I discovered mantles and the range of mantles Vikings would of worn. However, another fact I found out was mantles were mostly reserved for the higher ranked Vikings (Legends and Chronicles, 2007), useful for my project as my Viking is a Jarl. Finding out what the wealthier Vikings wore was definitely the most important during this research period as Gunnar is the main character and I need to be able to describe his outfit, along with drawing iterations. Getting information about the rich Viking clothing was great, yes, but I also need information on what my other main character, Elmer would wear – when he was a slave, that is. It all depended on the quality of fabric: the rich being able to afford silk while the poorer folk were only able to afford linen – common clothing. I also found out information on how the Vikings styled their hair; women and men. Why this is important is for the same reason I described previously in this paragraph, so I am able to describe character’s much more clearly and accurate so the audience can visually picture what my characters may look like.
Lastly was describing the Vikings eating habits. There is a scene in my book in which Gunnar’s son, Asbjorn, has recently gotten married so I wanted to search how they may have celebrated, coming across that they would host a feast with a flurry of different meats, breads, deserts, mead, beer, wine…etc. Along with the eating habits I found out skalds, singers and poets would recite while the Vikings were feasting, giving me an idea to write my own ballad and include a skald at the feast, making my story more realistic. (History On The Net, 2000)
Knowing about Viking culture before writing a book about them was certainly a good call, meaning I could make my story as realistic as possible; something I stated in my proposal. Unlike the TV show Vikings, I do not want to make my book about propaganda, making the Vikings look like blood-thirsty savages. I wanted to give them a bit more culture, make the audience understand what the Vikings were really like and not how media wants to depict them.
Audience has definitely been the most important research I have conducted for this project as you need an audience to make your product sell – figuratively in this case. From researching, I found out that you should pull apart your idea, first isolate your audience or group of people. This is definitely a useful way to find out the different demographic of people who will enjoy your book. After that, pin point the special qualities of your book, unique to others that are on the market. It is very rare you will find books that are completely unique – original – as my own book was based off the TV show Vikings and the book The Last Kingdom, but I managed to find something.
I decided when I pitched this idea that I will make this book a physical copy, not an e-book, though e-book would be much simpler. It is a different experience when you are holding the book in your hands than looking at it on a screen. So, what I did first was ask on Facebook for my friends/families opinion: majority answered physical. To make sure my feedback was accurate, I searched for a poll online. Having hundreds of people vote into a poll makes everything easier on me. Luckily 77.9% of voters (out of 1553) preferred the physical copy of a book (Good Reads, 2017). And that settled how I am going to present my book.
Will the audience like the genre of the book? Research will help answer this question. It turns out to be one of the most popular genres on the market today (QueryTracker, 2015), most likely to human nature about wanting to discover more of the past (even if most of it is false). Knowing that historical fiction is popular really made me confident about the fact that if this book was ever published, a majority of people would buy it. Even though historical fiction is popular, fiction books to do with Vikings are scarce (Malpas, 2015). Would that intrigue more readers to read my book? Or would people buy it for his exact reason? I may have to get more feedback.
However, what I need to take into account is that this piece of research was founded on a personal blog, so it could be personal preference. But I have searched for Viking books that may help generate an idea for my own narrative, finding nothing. The only book I found was The Last Kingdom, that my book follows closely, but not enough that it is a complete copy.
I stated in my proposal that I wanted my book to follow Viking history, meaning I was going to have to research key moments the Vikings thrived. Obviously Lindisfarne was one of the main key-events that needed to be researched. I wanted to know every aspect of the events that happened at Lindisfarne, but as no one who was on the island are not alive, people have pieced together their own theories. Very inaccurate, making what I said in my proposal false, but I doubt I would have anything held against me. What it gave me though was a new perspective on the Norse invaders, moving their label away from blood-thirsty killers (though that it still true) to tactical geniuses (overstatement, most likely). From this, I made the Vikings throughout my book aware, not just out to slaughter and cause violence. I hope that makes who read my book lose their propaganda mentality of the Vikings.
Next was the events on Normandy, Ragnar Lodbrok – famous Viking leader and will also be included within my book – arrived and ransacked Paris, acquiring 7000 gold from Charles The Bald (MyNormandy, 1998), who gave him the money from fear. This is definitely a good scene to include in my book as it will be the first time introducing Elmer as a Viking, not a slave. I also think this is a good scene as it is real Viking history, so maybe the audience will be intrigued to learn more, making their own research after reading my book.
Then finally the tragic day that Ragnar Lodbrok was slain when he crashed on the shore of Northumbria, England by King Alle (Vikings – Norman Descendants, 2016). Why I included this scene specifically was to also introduce the death of my own character; it seemed the perfect opportunity. Like Ragnar Lodbrok, I included an ending ballad, showing the people who slain him, along with the audience, that he is a God, going back to Valhalla, where he belongs. Though I said I wanted my book to be historically accurate, there has not been a determined cause of death of Ragnar Lodbrok.
Primary research was just as helpful as secondary research, though some primary research was me trying to grasp at anything that could be linked to the Norsemen. The library was definitely the biggest help as there were many history books to do with Ancient Scandinavia, a few giving me some inspiration, but the most helpful – and probably the most useful – was the Fairy Tales book by Hans Andersen, illustrated by W. Heath Robinson. The was Robinson presented his work in the book was very interesting and something I wanted to replicate. What he did was make the most important illustrations bigger, probably to get more imagery so the audience can imagine in depth the scene. Then he made the illustrations that hold limited purpose to the narrative a smaller space, just showing what is happening in the narrative currently; I wanted my book to be presented like this.
Good Reads (2017) Which do you prefer – e-books or paper books? [Online] https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/41218-which-do-you-prefer—e-books-or-paper-books?order=d&page=1 (Accessed: 29/03/2017)
History On The Net (2000) A Viking Feast [Online] Available from: http://www.historyonthenet.com/a-viking-feast/ (Accessed: 16/03/2017)
Jorvik Viking Centre (2012) How did they live? [Online] Available from: http://jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk/the-vikings/how-did-they-live/ (Accessed: 13/03/2017)
J S Malpas (2015) Best Viking Books (fiction & non-fiction) [Online] Available from: https://uselessbookclub.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/best-viking-novels-top-5/ (Accessed: 12/04/2017)
Legends and Chronicles (2007) Viking Clothing [Online] Available from: http://www.legendsandchronicles.com/ancient-civilizations/the-vikings/viking-clothing/ (Accessed from: 14/03/2017)
My Normandy (1998) The Vikings’ Legacy [Online] Available from: http://mynormandy.com/regards-mer.html (Accessed: 17/03/2017)
QueryTracker (2015) Top 10 Genres [Online] Available from: https://querytracker.net/top-10-genres.php (Accessed: 04/04/2017)
Vikings – Norman Descendants (2016) Historical Truth Of Ragnar Lodbrok [Online] Available from: http://www.normandescendants.org/historical-truth-ragnar-lodbrok/ (Accessed 17/03/2017)