John Pipkin's latest novel is The Blind Astronomer's Daughter. From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you research your new book, and was there anything that especially surprised you in the course of your research?Learn more about the book and author at John Pipkin's website.
A: I spent a lot of time doing archival research, not only in the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, but also at the British Library in London, and at the National Irish Library in Dublin, and I also traveled to many of the locations described in the novel in Ireland, England, and Scotland.
What surprised me most in researching astronomy during this time period was just how dangerous this pursuit could be. First there were the immediate physical dangers of running around in the dark, often on rooftops, and working with heavy equipment without the aid of lights or machinery. Caroline Herschel herself tripped over a chain in the dark and severely gouged her thigh on a hook anchoring the telescope.
In addition, remaining exposed to the cold, damp air, night after night, left many astronomers vulnerable to sicknesses in an era when something as simple as a fever or a sore throat cold be fatal. And there were also some reports of astronomer's staring at the sun through filtered lenses that shattered under the heat of sunlight. Previously I had not..[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Woodsburner.