Friday, February 8, 2019

Researching a Novel: The Spice Trade Part 1

by  Elva Cobb Martin

For my current novel (wip) I have done a lot of research into spices and found the subject most interesting.

In this picture the ancient Silk Road (red) and the Spice Trade Route (blue) spurred exploration and triggered the Age of Discovery to find new routes to these valuable commodities.

I want to talk about the Spice Trade in this series of blogs.

The Spice Trade actually drove the world's economy from the end of the Middle Ages well into  modern times. But the economical importance of spices, recorded in the history of Kerala, referred to as "The Spice Garden of India," goes back as far as 3000 BC which marks the beginning of the spice trade.

Wars have been fought on land and sea and nations have been made wealthy (and at least one annihilated) in the battle for control of the spice trade. 

The search for cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric, cassia, in the ancient world gave rise to unbelievable tales. To satisfy the curious, to protect their market, and to discourage competitors the spice-source countries like India and Asia spread fantasy tales of danger, magic, strange animals, and snake infested glens. Sinbad the Sailor stories grew out of this mindset.

For us in the USA, one most important fact stands out about the Spice Trade. The Americas were discovered (1492) due to Spain sending Columbus to find a western route to India ( from the Atlantic to the Pacific) to reap in the rewards for these valuable spices desired by all Europe.

The danger-fraught routes at that time (1400's) from Europe were through the Mediterranean and Egypt (Alexandria) overland to the Red Sea and down the Persian Gulf, then sailing over the Indian Ocean to India and the Spice Islands. The Spice Islands are located in the Indonesia area of the South China Seas, not far from Vietnam. Here's what it looked like.

Hope I haven't bored you, but I love discovering history like this and sowing bits into my novels. My goal for my historical Christian Romance novels is that readers enjoy a warm ROMANCE, high adventure, and learn something new. How about the spices we love and how they came to us?

Thanks for stopping by. Please do share by clicking on the small icons below, and I would love to hear your comments. Don't miss the next parts of this series as we tell the amazing history of a few or our most beloved spices--and how to weave some of it into a romance novel to bless your readers and whet their appetites.

Have a Romantic Valentine's Day next week! And read an exciting romance. See my links below. (plug, plug)


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. She has indie published a Bible study on Amazon, Power Over Satan, on the  believer's authority in Christ. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site,on Twitter; Facebook;  and Pinterest    
 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: