The Grottos Secret Authors Notes

Writing a historical novel creates challenges for an author. Especially when it comes to what is and isn’t true.

The facts about the Spanish Inquisition have been carefully researched and are true. The witch hunts and torture methods are true. Many more horrific devices were used to force people into being heretics or witches. I was fascinated with the idea that many ‘witches’ burnt at the stake may have been innocent mothers.

I was inspired by Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) who was a herbalist and wrote his own complete herbal guide. He was prosecuted for witchcraft by the Society of Apothecaries, but acquitted by a jury. ‘Culpeper’s Complete Herbal is still in print today. I imagined that my character wrote her herbal guide before Culpeper.

My character Ana-María de Carbonela, (I invented her as the first female Spanish fiction author) was inspired by María de Zayas y Sotomayor, the most popular woman writer of seventeenth-Century Spain.

Dialogue in The Middle Ages was convoluted with a simple sentence being quite a mouthful. As our English language has evolved over the centuries, we no longer say ‘thee’ or ‘thou’ or spell words with an ‘eth’ on the end. With this in mind and to avoid confusion and difficult conversations, I have simplified the character’s dialogue taking out the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’, yet still keeping the tone within the historical period.

Along the same lines, with dialog between characters taking place in medieval Spain, obviously in Spanish and not English, I have used italics to distinguish Spanish words to enrich the dialogue. The same goes for the Dutch character.

Most of the facts I have used about Plankton are true. Except that Rizado is completely fabricated in the ether of my mind, so please do not self-treat or self-diagnose. Always work with a qualified doctor to treat or cure a disease or health condition. 

The poisonous plants I have used to kill fictional characters can really kill humans and dogs. Some can give agonising deaths. The popular Oleander bush, prolific in Spain, almost killed my puppy. Read about his story on my website. Or check out the range of toxic plants on my Pinterest board.

Author's Infographic

I had great fun creating this infographic. It shows some 'author notes' from things that inspired me when writing my novel, The Grotto's Secret. It also shows a few facts that may interest you about the book and the time period it is set in. Please share this infographic I did with notes from writing and researching for The Grotto's Secret.