I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Historians Association here in NYC.
I knew I was in a whole different world when I passed the bar at 6pm and it was empty. One of the main complaints at every Bouchercon is that the hotel doesn't provide enough bar staff. They don't believe the organizers who tell them writers will be in the bar before they'll be just about anywhere else. Now I see why the hotel has doubts: these historians, although fun and festive, do not lollygag about in the bar. (I liked them anyway.)
One of the panels I attended was about AskHistorians.com.
I'd never heard of it before (probably because I was busy lollygagging in the bar) but the description sounded interesting. It's a place anyone can ask questions about things in history.
Some caveats: it's not the substitute for research you can do on your own.
A question like "When did Germany invade Poland?" isn't going to survive moderation.
But a more nuanced question like "I'm a young woman in Mongolia in 1066. What are my chances of being kidnapped by a rival tribe and married off to a total stranger?" is what they're looking for.
The Q&As are hosted on Reddit, which scared the crap out of me cause I have always found Reddit to be a cesspool, but this little corner is remarkably non-toxic. That's most likely due to the very careful moderators who are all volunteers (bless them!).
The reason I mention this is that many of you are writing historical fiction. This is a good place to get world building info, or verify something you've read that sounds weird. Or just find out cool things that get you thinking.
I've just gotten started so I haven't posted my first question yet, but I'm going to ask about literacy and books in Mongolia.
Yes, you can sense a theme now. Mongolia, right? Yup. For some reason I came away from the AHA meeting with a real thirst for All Things Mongolia.
I promptly bought two books:
The Mongol Empire by Timothy May
Women and Making of the Mongol Empire by Anne E Broadbridge
If anyone is writing historical fiction set in Mongolia I hope you'll query me.