To digress a little, we are shortly moving very close to the Lincolnshire town of Spilsby. Exploring it a few weeks ago, I saw the statue of a man in the market place. All I could remember from the inscription was North West Passage. Not my period. Not interested. Until, on the IHR course, Sir John Franklin - that's him above and yes the statue was of him - began to accost me at every touch and turn. Our tutor had arranged trips to the National Archives at Kew, The Royal Society, The Geographical Society, The Parliamentary Archives, The Wellcome Trust and, of course, The British Library.
Sir John began his campaign before we ever saw the inside of an archive. His name came up on the first morning. 'Oh, was that the guy born in Spilsby?' I asked. 'Not sure,' was the reply. The next day he raised his head a little more at the Geographical Society with some of his maps and a photograph. After that, I couldn't move without him standing in front of me saying 'Me. Me. You want to write about ME.' And yes, it is the guy on the plinth in Spilsby market place.
But I don't like the 19th century! I’m far happier with Edward IV and Richard and George, Duke of Clarence et al.
When our tutor finally told me about the only ghost in the Dictionary of National Biography who had appeared to her family in a vision and told them where in the Arctic they would find Sir John and his ill-fated crew, I caved in. When I found out his wife, Lady Jane Franklin spent the next x years hounding governments, whaling captains and whoever she thought could mount a rescue expedition to find Sir John, I knew I had the making of at least one book and probably more than one. And then, the coup de grace. Sir John died on 11th June, which just happens to be our wedding anniversary.
So, my fellow writers, don't walk down the writing road blinkered to everything but the road ahead. Be open to the possibilities. Still not that faffed about the 19th century though!