Wordy Wednesday with Dr Sara Read

Today's Wordy Wednesday is a high culture affair, with none other than Dr Sara Read, who cunningly lured me into her historical literary works with promises of information about menstruation through the ages. Who wouldn't leap at the chance, well maybe you, but not me because I love that kind of weird detail of lives gone by. So with out further ado I present an interview with Sara...

When did you start writing?
I didn't write anything of any length until I went to university as a mature student in my early 30s

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?

Quiet (in a busy family and work life, this is sometime hard to find).
Good weather - this might sound strange but everything comes more easily to me when the sun is shining.
Coffee and biscuits.

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?

Absolutely not. I have learned over the years not to panic if I can't write at a particular moment, in the confidence that when the time is right the words will flow and they will be all the better for not forcing the issue. I do something else and come back to it now.

Is writing your main source of income, I read lots of articles saying writers make no money, and my readers asked this question a lot! Can you survive on book writing alone? if not, what else do you do?
I write both academic books and articles and books and articles for a broader readership. The academic books are part of my job a lecturer in English at a university. As lecturers our time is divided between teaching and research and we have an obligation to publish this research. So, my main income is from my lecturing job. I have the best of both worlds in many ways as I am employed part-time which gives me the space to write the non-academic social history publications too.

What are your favourite biscuits?

Choc chip cookies - my daughter makes the most amazing wheat free ones for me

Where do you do most of your writing?

At the kitchen table.

What book are you reading at the moment?
I am reading the diary of a Derbyshire vicar/physician from the eighteenth century for research and am reading One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner for relaxation

Do you use social media (facebook, twitter, instagram etc) to engage with your audience, do you think it helps sales and do you find it fun or a chore?
I use Twitter for engagement. It is fun and definitely drives sales. I'm @floweringbodies on Twitter. The name is a reference to my previous research. The most common name for periods in the seventeenth century was 'the flowers' and my first academic book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2013) is a study of attitudes to the female reproductive body and the blood loss associated with significant moments in a woman's reproductive life (menarche, menstruation, lochial bleeding, menopause).  

Twitter is great for those interested in social history too. There is large body of people using the 'twitterstorians' hashtag which links to all sorts of interesting facts from images to blogs.

Do you own an e-reader? and do you prefer to read digital or paper copy?
I do own an e-reader but have only used it a handful of times. I like paper books.

Do you dream in colour?

If reading and writing were banned, what would you do instead?

garden more, listen to music more, walk the dog more.

What is your ideal holiday?
With my family, somewhere warm and sunny where I can have a mixture of interesting sight-seeing trips and relaxing, reading, pool days.

Dr Read's current book is Maids, Wives, Widows and is available for £15.99 via http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/

 Maids, Wives, Widows is a lively exploration of the everyday lives of women in early modern England, from 1540-1740. The book uncovers details of how women filled their days, what they liked to eat and drink, what jobs they held, and how they raised their children. With chapters devoted to beauty regimes, fashion, and literature, the book also examines the cultural as well as the domestic aspect of early modern women's lives. Further, the book answers questions such as how women understood and dealt with their monthly periods and what it was like to give birth in a time before modern obstetric care was available.
The book also highlights key moments in women's history such as the publication in 1671, of the first midwifery guide by an English woman, Jane Sharp. The turmoil caused by the Civil Wars of the 1640s gave rise to a number of religious sects in which women participated to a surprising extent and some of their stories are included in this book. Also scrutinised are cases of notorious criminals such as murderer Sarah Malcolm and confidence trickster Mary Toft who pretended to give birth to rabbits.<< probably worth reading for this alone tbh!
Overall the book describes the experiences of women over a two hundred year period noting the changes and continuities of daily life during this fascinating era.

Thank you to Dr Sara Read for answering my questions and for joining in Wordy Wednesday.

Wordy Wednesday

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