Because my book is written in a nutty, unexplained patchwork style, the layout is super design heavy. I wanted the story to be a run down a rabbit hole and into another time having no idea why sort of paper trail experience. All the elements (it turns out that there are about thirty of them--yikes) need to be distinct and the diary needs to be recognizable as the control group in this experiment. Tricky to do. And make it look like the period? And not strain the eye, confuse the reader, or in any other way be too much, too little or annoying? Wow, is that hard.
I really did not want to explain the bits of paper-- to do the young woman opens forgotten old chest in her attic and there are neat bundles of diaries/letters/recipes/playbills/newspapers/shoemaker bills and medical journals all relating to someone she finds out is her ancestor sort of story. Icky ick. That sort of tidy, discovery of right paper by right person paper stuff always drives me bonkers in historical fiction. I want to step into a place and not step out. Mysteries and thrillers I expect to be jostled around and pitched out of this or that century--fantastic, but in historical fiction I just want to go somewhere and stay there. The same way I like to travel--go somewhere and make friends with a place; set up shop, move in. I love having time in a book. If a book is too short I cannot commit to it as I know we will break up too soon.
Unless of course the time travel is done really well as in A.S. Byatt's Possession--brilliant and the discovery goes on and on and is the story or as in Wuthering Heights. Mr. Lockwood very conveniently hears the whole history of Cathy the Ghost who he is about to meet and wacky Heathcliff who is about to join her for an undead walk on the moors. Convenient but so good I can forgive all its convenience.
In other news, I went and got Meredith's book, If You Want to Cry, Go Outside. It is sharp, witty and a really fun kind of smart. My dad (who tends towards history, politics and P.G. Wodehouse) has also picked it up I noticed. And my book sold to Italy this morning! Royalties in euros--yipee!