Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Digging Stuff Up or Archaeology for Those in the Know…

February 10, 2014
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Archaeology is defined as the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other remains.

Fascination with the lives of humans that came before us has been around for decades. Preservation of artifacts and intensive research into the daily life and habits of these ancestors has increasingly revealed lives we could never imagine. From simple stone tools to impressive structures, such as aqueducts and pyramids, to technological inventions, homo sapiens have evolved at an incredible rate.  As you can see from this graph, although it only spans until Shakespeare’s time. We have taken even larger leaps since then.

Cultural history

Technological advances have exploded as you can clearly see here.

technology_through_years

Actually digging on an archaeological site is fun as the anticipation of finding something keeps you picking away at the soil, even in poor weather or baking heat. I have experienced a couple of digs and attended archaeology classes as well as explored numerous historical sites and houses in England. These visits are cataloged in many scrap books. I incorporated my knowledge of archaeology into my novel, The Twesome Loop, where a gruesome find in the villa grounds is investigated.

Excerpt from The Twesome Loop 

Her parents’ friend, James Buckley, was in charge of the new dig at the Thornwood villa, he had been only too pleased to welcome Caroline and his old colleagues to visit. Caroline had investigated so much on the Thornwood estate but to actually visit it, was a dream come true. Through her own research she already knew a great deal about Lord Thornwood. He had bought the land near Agagni and commissioned the restoration of the Italian villa on the site. It was built on the highest point, giving extensive views across the valley. As part treasure hunter and part historian, the English Lord spent decades digging his land and finding numerous Roman artifacts, which he unashamedly sold to the highest bidder to finance his other obsession, gambling.

As the years passed, the locals thought him mad as he was always in dirty clothes digging up the land, followed closely by a manservant with a wheelbarrow and water jugs. When Lord Thornwood died, his family sold off the villa and its land in job lots to pay off his large debts. Caroline had also researched the man who would be their host, Edward Beecham. She discovered he had inherited the villa and its extensive gardens. With investment he had commissioned a total refit of the villa, which transformed it into a large family home with separate accommodation for guests. It comprised of eight bedrooms all with en suite and traditional balconies. The web site showed the decor was sympathetic to the age of the building and all the fittings were reproduction to the era when the villa was first built. The photographs Caroline had found online gave stunning views across the valley. She was excited about exploring the home and grounds of her ‘champion’. Lord Thornwood had lived his passion for artifacts, and although he sold the wonderful treasures, they gradually found their way into museums all over the world.

What fascinates you about history?

Caroline Ludovici Interview…

September 10, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Posthastedefinition: with the greatest possible speed or promptness

Caroline

Please welcome Caroline Ludovici, her anxiousness as a child to begin writing is evident.

a)     What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy submerging myself into the story and being transformed to another place. I love creating people that are so real and lifelike, who seem to take me on a journey.

b)    What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I started writing short stories when I was nine or ten. But as a child, my greatest pleasure was the essay assignments at school, where, for the weekend, we where to choose one of three essays posted on the board. I would always look forward to  writing all three. Often the teacher would read them out in class. But it was my struggle with spelling that was a big problem, holding me back in many ways. They didn’t know about dyslexia in those days, but now, looking back, I realize I suffered terribly because of it.

c)     Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

It has stayed the same. YA. I love writing adventure stories with a bit of history thrown in somehow, so they are interesting as well as exciting, and hopefully may spark the curiosity of the reader into wanting to investigate more about history and archaeology.

d)    What genre are you currently reading?

I am researching for my next book. I am reading nonfiction about pirates, the Ottoman Empire, and Algeria.

ottoman-empire

e)     Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Mostly, I must confess, I read for research. Reading doesn’t come easily to me and it is more of a chore than a pleasure. I get frustrated with detail and waffle. Even when reading a newspaper, I like the headlines but not the long drawn out detail one has to read before getting to the point. Funnily enough, I love to surround myself with books, and I often wander through antiquarian bookshops when I am in England, always coming out with something interesting I intend to read. I have bookshelves at home brimming and overflowing with books I will someday finish. If I could lay every book on my forehead and somehow absorb the information telepathically, I would be very, very happy. So much effort is taken up in the actual process reading a paragraph, that often I have not taken in what the paragraph is about at all and have to start over. It is horrible, yet I am so keen to read. When someone gives me a book to read, it is honestly, like handing you book of long division. I think I must be an unusual sort of author!

f)     Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

The children who give me feedback of The Obsidian Mask are the ones who encourage me most. Without their liking it, there would be much less incentive to write more exciting archaeological adventures.

g)     Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

That’s a tough question. I love them all. Marcello is the most flamboyant character; he is an emotional archaeologist, who takes everything to heart, loving what he does even if he finds excavating rather moving at times. Natasha 15, is deep and sensitive, having trouble accepting her mother’s new relationship. Lorenzo, Marcello’s son,  longs for his father’s approval, and is always trying to do the right thing even if he finds it very restricting. Alex, Natasha’s younger brother, is happy-go-lucky, but seems to get a raw deal in any tricky situation they find themselves in. Gabriella, though at first is seemingly annoying, especially to Natasha is sensible and brave, even if she is a bit prissy. All the characters grow and develop throughout the stories. I have to say that the Contessa, who we meet for the first time in book two, Secrets of The River, is such fun to write. She is a strict, uptight old lady, who lives with her grand children, Gabriella and Lorenzo, but she has a lot more to hide than the average Italian grandma.

Where is your favorite writing space?

At my coffee table in the family room.  I find my office a bit lonely and quiet.

h)    Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer?

I have an outline in my head of what the story is about. But how it develops is entirely up to the people in the book. I guess that means I am a seat of the pants writer. Sometimes the story goes off in a totally different direction, which is fine by me, as long as it turns out right in the end! The hardest part is knowing when to stop.

i)      What inspires your ideas/stories?

I love history and archaeology, and being true adventurer at heart, my experiences seep into the books through the characters. This makes the stories so realistic and  believable. I think the market is flooded with so much sci-fi and fantasy, it is time to get back to real, down-to-earth adventures with  great characters that the reader will get to know and relate to.

j)      Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

Yes I do, The Main Line Writers Group.  Main Writing

k)    Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it?

The first book in the trilogy is The Obsidian Mask. It is available at Barnes and Noble on line,

Obsidian Mask

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-obsidian-mask-caroline-ludovici/1108173406?ean=9780741470645, Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Obsidian-Mask-Caroline-Ludovici/dp/0741470640/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378073957&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Obsidian+mask , Infinity Publishers, and several local bookstores.

l)      If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

I think Charles Dickens. He must have been an amazing man, to have such insight.

m)   Where can readers find you and your blog?

I occasionally blog and post it to my website, but unless I have something to say, I tend to stick to my books instead! www.carolineludovici.com

n)    Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?

Oh yes. I am planning two books ahead! The sequel to The Obsidian Mask, Secrets Of The River, is done, finished and will hopefully be out for Christmas. The third book is under way.

My English Heritage…

May 13, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Cloister – definition: 1) monastery or convent; 2) a covered, usually arched passage along or around a court

Castles, mansions, and grand estates all made up a wonderful hobby for my friend, Deb and I when we lived in England. The historic houses and ancient sites we visited are far too many to name or list here. Suffice to say we travelled around a great deal of England to gazed in awe and learn about our history.

Some places are known globally, such as Stonehenge and Buckingham Palace but there are hundreds of other magnificent places that would inspire anyone. Painted ceilings, tapestries, carved furniture and wooden paneling not to mention thousands of paintings of Lords and Ladies from days gone by.

imagesCANOKFKJ Cambridge and Oxford have cloistered courtyards as do many other buildings of the time period when such buildings were made by skilled stone masons. With close inspection you will see how each section has been crafted to lock with the next. Workmanship  like this is sadly in short supply in today’s modern age but their are some who are trying to keep the craft alive.

It is possible that I can imagine where my travelling troubadour, Guillem Ruet resides so easily due to my years of visiting such glorious places.

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Memories…

February 12, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Latifundium – definition : a large country estate.

Today’s word had me remembering weekends galore that I spent in England, visiting numerous historical sites and magnificent estates. My friend Deb and I would spend our days off (we were nursing at the time) travelling all over the country. I have dozens of scrap books full of brochures and postcards of every place visited. These are wonderful reminders and very interesting to revisit. England has centuries of a rich and varied history, all evidenced by ancient sites; such as Stonehenge to vast estates purchased and maintained by the National Trust. These wonderful places are kept not only for prosperity but also as a living history.

English: Stonehenge, Wiltshire county, England...

English: Stonehenge, Wiltshire county, England Français : Stonehenge, comté de Wiltshire, Angleterre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many a time Deb and I would hang back from guided tours to really take in the atmosphere and touch objects that were not supposed to. Naughty I know but too tempting not to! My first scrap book has the  very first postcard I purchased on a infant (elementary) school trip to the New Forest– I was five years old. Some of the places have changed hands, been abandoned or become commercialized. It saddens me that Stonehenge is now fenced off from visitors. As a child I climbed on the stones playing king of the castle or hide and seek with my siblings. Some mansions have become private residencies or even hotels, which is good for the building as it will be maintained but maybe not in the way it should be for historical reasons.

Now that I live in Canada I miss the rich history of England as my new home is so young in comparison. When someone tells me now,  ‘Oh, its so old,” I have to bite my lip knowing that at the most it is less than one hundred years old. Compared to a 14th century church it is a newborn.

English: Court Barn near West Pennard, Somerse...

English: Court Barn near West Pennard, Somerset. This barn is in the care of the National Trust. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also my time as a member of an archaeology group was not only enjoyable but fascinating. Scraping away dried earth to reveal a piece of Roman pottery or a trinket is an awesome feeling. To touch history is so much more exciting than reading it – I know as an author that’s not the thing to say but history comes alive when you actually place your hand on it and make a connection to its owner. Walking along a Roman road or climbing a tor, somehow resonates with your ancient memory.

These experiences give me a wonderful resource for my stories and characters. They are cherished memories.

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