Williamsburg – Research Heaven! I was able to step into the lives of my characters. I visited the Blacksmith, Wetherburn’s Tavern, the Apothecary, the Silversmith, the Milliner, the Cabinetmaker/Joiner, and theCooper. But, the two shops that fascinated me were the Printing Office and Bindery.
Imagine your book being printed back in the 18th century. The Printer would first line row after row of size 10 font type, from right to left, in the printing press. One sheet of paper could hold about six pages (~8 X 6 inches) of font on each side. If the ink and print are already in place, two people can print 100 sheets of paper per hour on one press.
Once the pages are pressed, they are sent to the Bindery where they are folded, lining the margins and numbers just right. Then the three exterior edges are cut to size and smoothed out until there is a slight gloss. For paperback, the pages are sewn together along the spine. Otherwise, the Binder uses a flour paste to bind the book to a dyed sheet of paper or to a leatherback. It is an amazing process.
During my stay, I also visited Jamestown where I went aboard the three ship replicas: the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. I also wandered through the life the settlers lived in the fort and even handled the types of swords my characters use throughout my novels.
Though wandering Williamsburg during the day is fun, the night activities are most interesting. The Tavern Ghost Walk was the least thrilling of all the tours I participated in. The group merely wandered the streets as the guild told us ghost stories the employees experienced firsthand. Now, I might have actually seen a ghost on this tour. He was standing on the balcony of the Capital Building, leaning on the rail. He had a black wig and a black tail coat. He was only there for a second. However, it also could have been that half pint of ale I had before the tour.
The two best tours were the Lanthorn Tour and Pirates Amongst Us. The Lanthorn Tour showed the everyday life of four trades: the Milliner, the Silversmith, the Printing Office, and the Bindery. Pirates Amongst Us was a tour that traveled from the Public Goal (Jail) to the taverns. Along the way, you met up with the ghosts of people and pirates that were betrayed by Blackbeard. They were all actors of course (or were they?).
I also wanted to see Ghosts Amongst Us, but they were sold out.
And, of course, on July 4th the town celebrated our nation’s birth, the Revolutionary War, and our founding fathers. At the end of the day was a wonderful display of fireworks. Happy Independence Day to all!