Researching 13th Century China

Researching 13th Century China

By Karen Warren

It was quite a challenge for me to write a novel about the Mongol Empire. I’d come across the story of the legendary explorer Marco Polo escorting a Mongol princess by sea from China to Persia, and I knew that I had to write about it. But I knew nothing about the Mongols, 13th century China, or medieval ships. I needed to do some research!

Fortunately, history and travel are my twin passions (when I’m not writing fiction, I’m working on my travel blog). I started by reading everything I could find about the Mongol Empire and medieval travel – visiting the British Library and scouring charity shops for lesser known titles. There was practical research too. I wanted to see some of the places I was writing about and to find out what it was like to travel across the ocean, so I signed up for a cruise around South East Asia. (If I was stir crazy after ten days in a modern cruise ship, imagine what it must have been like to spend 18 months cooped up in a Chinese junk…)

By the time I’d read a few novels about the Mongol Empire, I realised that my book was going to be different. There weren’t going to be any battles or politics: this was a story about women and servants, people whose voices were rarely heard. As I started to write the characters came to life, and I enjoyed discovering their very different motivations and their individual struggles with fate. Shadow of the Dome is a tale of friendship, duty and destiny – themes that continue to occupy us today. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.

Get your copy of Karen’s novel, Shadow of the Dome, here!