Kathy Lynn Emerson here. Tomorrow is the release date for the trade paperback re-issue of The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England 1485-1649. The book was originally published as part of Writer’s Digest’s Everyday Life series.
At the time, getting the contract to write this nonfiction book was a case of serendipity at work. I had written several novels set in England in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century and what is now the much improved and expanded A Who’s Who of Tudor Women had been published by a small scholarly press as Wives and Daughters: The Women of Tudor England. I was working on what would become Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie (the first book in my Face Down mystery series) when it struck me that, thanks to my research, I had enough material for another work of nonfiction. Since Writer’s Digest Books was had just brought out a guide to everyday life in Medieval England, I asked my then agent to find out if they were planning one for the Tudor period. It turned out that they were, although they wanted to include both the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. And they wanted to refer to the period as Renaissance England. Personally, I thought that was a bit misleading. I couldn’t talk them out of it, but I did get them to concede that it would be a tough sell to include the last half of the seventeenth century. Executing your king and establishing Puritan rule kind of wipes out the chance for a flowering of the arts.
My timing was perfect. They liked the sample chapter I wrote (the one on seafaring), and the project went ahead. The finished manuscript was vetted by an “expert” somewhere, which was fine with me but a bit unnerving as I waited to see if he’d pick apart what I’d done. Then a hardcover edition came out in 1996. It stayed in print for years but eventually the rights reverted to me. I put up an e-book edition ages ago, back when e-books were first getting started. It still sells, although it’s really not much more than a glorified .pdf file. And then, of course, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I got the idea to self-publish a new, trade paperback edition to be available through print-on-demand. If you missed it, you can read about some of the challenges here
As for the content, that’s almost entirely the same. History does change with new discoveries, but not all that much, and the Everyday Life books were intended to be an introduction to research in the periods they covered. Do you want to know what people wore from 1485-1649? What they ate? How their houses were furnished? How long it took to travel from one place to another? Why the punishment for killing your husband was so much worse than if you just murdered some random stranger? All those answers and more are in The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England 1485-1649.
Special offer today: ask me a question in the comments section about life in England from 1485-1649 and I’ll post an answer.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. In 2023 she won the Lea Wait Award for “excellence and achievement” as a Maine writer from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. She is currently working on creating new omnibus e-book editions of her backlist titles. She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com.