One of my favorite shows on TV is SyFy channel’s Destination Truth with Joshua Gates. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a guy who travels to all sorts of exotic locations to find out the truth about monsters reportedly living there. The host, Josh Gates, is tall and adorable…brave almost to the point of insanity…has a wicked sense of humor…perfect hero material…sorry, got distracted. Anyway, Josh never seems to uncover proof of the actual monster (I’ll keep rooting for him), but his journeys are amazing, and he always discovers all kinds of other, interesting things (like a headless chicken corpse with human feet, an enormous unidentified footprint, ghostly images, disembodied voices and even scarier mundane things. Like quicksand. Alligators. Poisonous snakes…)
Shivering aside, what does Destination Truth have to do with researching a historical romance novel?
The similarities are mind-boggling.
So let’s start by comparing an episode of Destination Truth with one of my historical research topics. Let’s say, Josh’s search for evidence of the Yeti with my search for historical…panties. (Trust me, it’s going to be tougher than it sounds. Victorian underwear wasn’t too difficult, but when I began researching Georgian underwear for THE ELVEN LORDS series, it had me tearing my hair out.)
Destination Truth: Search for the elusive yeti/panty
Rumors of the Yeti have reached Josh at his headquarters. A huge ape-like creature similar to the Sasquatch, living somewhere in the Himalayas. Josh packs up his crew and travels thousands of miles to the Far East. The search is on.
Rumors of corsets, stays, and chemises reach the author. But what of panties? This information is critical to the author for her love scenes. Author props up her feet next to her computer and brings up the Google screen. The search is on.
Josh interviews people, looking for reliable witnesses who have seen the Yeti, in order to determine the best place to set up an investigation. He hikes through a valley where sightings have occurred, but finds nothing more exciting than a grazing cow.
Author types in ‘Georgian Underwear’, scanning through the results, looking for reliable websites. The first one looks promising, but on further investigation author comes up empty-handed. The rest of the sites aren’t even related to author’s search.
Josh continues his search, and gets lucky. Some evidence is found of the creature, but Josh can’t determine if it’s genuine. They are frustrated in their attempts to acquire some evidence for testing from the artifact. They are told that because others believe it to be genuine, so must they.
Author expands her search to ‘Georgian Clothing’ and gets lucky. Results have turned up some reputable websites, but further investigation only leads her from one link to another, frustrating the author. She’s tempted by the Wikipedia result, but is aware that the general populace updates the site’s information.
After four days of hiking with nary a Yeti in sight, Josh and his team split up, and start hunting in earnest.
After Googling several combinations of word searches with nary a panty in sight, author decides to branch out her search to the library and bookstore.
The journey through the Himilayas is arduous but amazing, and the hunt reveals fascinating plant and animal life, with exciting discoveries and perilous adventures.
The journey through the library is arduous but amazing, with hundreds of books on Georgian costume to pour through, revealing discoveries of clocked stockings and brocade waistcoats. Although most of the books at the bookstore deal with general English social history, the author lives new adventures through historical biographies. But no mention of panties. Author goes to Amazon and searches for out-of-print books that may have an answer…and is overjoyed! She orders the Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century, a detailed look at clothing.
One of Josh’s sherpa guides finds an enormous footprint! Josh is overjoyed! His team spreads out, looking for more evidence, but unfortunately, find none. They take a plaster cast of the print and bring it back to headquarters amid much acclaim.
Author receives her Amazon order. She removes a book from the wrapping titled, Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. They sent her the wrong book! But after searching through it, author finds no reference to panties anyway.
Josh brings the plaster castings to a professional for examination. It is estimated that a 300-400 pound creature made the prints. They are ruled out as a hoax and are called a ‘significant discovery’. Is this definitive proof of the Yeti, then? Alas, it seems to be unclear.
Author has garnered enough information by now to deduce that panties were ‘most likely’ not worn prior to the drawers of the Victorian era, but alas, she lacks definitive proof. Indeed, historians seem unclear as well, for if panties were worn, no clear evidence of them remains.