I had a ball doing research for my latest novel, Beyond All Dreams. The setting is at the
Library of Congress, and as a librarian, this is rather like Valhalla, or
Mecca, or the Elysian fields…. chose whatever splendid metaphor you like, there
is no library in the world to compare with the Library of Congress. I was dazzled from the moment I walked down Independence Avenue and caught sight of the Library of Congress in the distance.
Here is a bit of interesting trivia: Did you know that the
original Library of Congress was on the top floor of the U.S. Capitol? It
outgrew its space and was moved into the glorious building we use today in
1897. This is the exact time my novel is set, so the librarians are busily
packing up in preparation for their move to their palatial new building. I
tried to provide a lot of behind-the-scenes of what went on during those years.
Research for what
it was like to work in the U.S. Capitol in the late 19th century was
a special challenge. I needed to know
where they would have eaten their meals, placed a telephone call, or relaxed
between meetings. I wanted to get the details right, but in a post 9-11 world,
comprehensive floorplans of the Capitol are entirely off limits to the public.
Luckily, librarians are a cooperative lot, and I was able to get in touch with
librarians currently working for congress who answered many of my questions.
Also, I was able to find some blueprints of the original building, and sure
enough, they are labeled with everything from the cafeterias, cloakrooms, and
staircases. I know the twentieth century brought huge changes to the Capitol,
but the old blue prints were quite accurate for my 1890’s story.
This was my second novel set in Washington D.C. My first was
With Every Breath, a medical romance set
primarily in hospitals and government research labs, and focused on the brave
men and women searching to cure tuberculosis. I love Washington novels not only
because there were so many women employed in interesting government jobs, but I
think you tend to find the best and worst of humanity in Washington. Many are
dedicated, idealistic people, and they are given phenomenal tools and resources
to tackle some of the nation’s biggest problems. I hope to do more Washington
novels in the future….especially if I can manage to squeeze in another research
In my office at the college
Sometimes people are curious to see where writers work. I’ve
got two offices, as I work as a college librarian by day, and scribble away at
my novels at night. My office at college is pristine, but my home office is
cluttered, well-lived in, and within easy reach of the coffee pot!
Although my home office is where I do the majority of the
In my home office
writing, I find that the best place for brainstorming plots and ideas
happens while I am running, mowing the lawn, or some other monotonous physical
task where I can simply unleash my imagination.
Many thanks for inviting me onto your blog!
Writing can be a somewhat solitary occupation, so I love getting a chance to
meet readers…even if it is in a virtual setting like this!
Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida.
Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has
published several articles for academic publications and is the author
of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history
and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction.
Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.