Hi! I'm Eleanor Konik. My day job is teaching Ancient Civilizations; freelance writing straddles the line between side gig and hobby. My non-fiction articles have been published by professional outlets like Tor.com & SFWA. My fiction has been published in outlets like Corvidae Courier and Worldbuilding Magazine. I'm a First Reader for the pro speculative fiction magazine Diabolical Plots. To support all that, I keep very careful notes using the Obsidian personal knowledge management tool, which has a wonderful community that I help moderate. I've discussed some of my notetaking tips & tricks over on YouTube.
They say that authors shouldn’t bother readers with all the background research that goes into making a good story, and there's a lot of truth to the "Iceberg theory of writing," but my favorite parts of my favorite books have always been the afterwords that explain the relationship a story has to a real world historical event. I’m pretty open about the fact that most of what I know about the French Revolution and Napoleanic Wars comes from the Honor Harrington series, and I hadn’t ever heard of the Zulu wars before I read the Confederation series by Tanya Huff.
I started this newsletter in defiance of conventional wisdom, on the assumption that there is a niche of folks out there who share my interests in the intersection of real life concepts and fantastical stories. It's all the stuff I learn that won't necessarily make it into my actual fiction writing, or even my non-fiction pieces, but is still too interesting to just trash.
My primary interests — and thus the typical focus of these deep dives — tend to be questions about how non-industrial people live, with a particular focus on Bronze Age. I try not to spend too much time on well-known stuff like Classic civilizations and post-industrial wars, although I do sometimes dig into science that's relevant for near-future sci-fi, like aerogels. My goal is to surprise and delight myself and my subscribers with new information, not to become an expert on well-trod spaces.
I've often used fiction writing to focus my nerdy research deep dives, not least of which because historically it's given me stuff to talk about at parties. Back when we could still go to parties. So in August of 2020 I started this newsletter as a way to share interesting tidbits I came across during my research with friends and family I'd lost the chance to chat with during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I'm incredibly gratified by the strong support I've received throughout this experiment. After about a year, I was able to move from a free mailerlite plan to a self-hosted ghost installation, and start selling my stories (& the research underlying the stories) directly to interested readers.
Ghost has two advantages: It makes it easier for me to quickly reference particular pieces when past research comes up in conversation, which happens surprisingly often for Scurvy, Hats & Horseboats. The other advantage is that I can segment the newsletter pretty easy according to whether subscribers are here for the short overviews or the fiction & analyses, and ghost is best-in-class for keeping money out of the hands of middlemen like Amazon or Patreon.
I'm still working on moving some of my past newsletters to the new host, but I hope readers will enjoy being able to access my research via the web instead of being restricted to email.