Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Ellen Hart writes:

As writers, we all do research for our stories. What has been the most interesting research you've done? Did it help you shape the book? Or did it all end up on the cutting room floor?


Vicki Lane said...

My most extensive research involved a trip to NC's Cape Lookout and Bath, New Bern, and Beaufort, in pursuit of Blackbeard and authenticity for my first novel. I got great info from the ranger in charge at Cape Lookout on how a body dumped HERE might end up THERE and I got to know lots and lots about the Maritime Museum and historic Bath, onetime home of Blackbeard.

This all went into my first Elizabeth Goodweather novel, the one that got me an agent but that never got pubbed. Editor after editor passed, all saying they loved the character but that they didn't like the idea of beginning a series with the protag on vacation.

"Series readers want to fall in love with a place as well as a character," they all said.

So I put WHOSE REVENGE under the bed and wrote another Elizabeth G., this time with her in the mountains where she belongs. And that's what sold to Bantam Dell.

The most fun research was taking a concealed carry class -- now Elizabeth and I can both pack heat -- legally.

Marcia Talley said...

Shortly after 9/11, I asked Donna Andrews, who lived nearby, to take some photos of a church in Fairfax, VA where I was setting a scene in This Enemy Town. After a few minutes, three police cars appeared out of nowhere, lights flashing and sirens whooping. Little did Donna know that the non-descript government building behind the church housed DARPA, the Department of Defense's version of the internet. After she deleted the photos, she was allowed to go ... but we always laugh about this as the time Donna Andrews nearly got arrested while helping me with research. I did tell her that I would have happily bailed her out -- if they took VISA.

Steve Liskow said...

I know some rock musicians in Detroit who helped me out with a novella and unpublished PI series,
but my most interesting research so far is still in progress. I've interviewed coaches, referees, announcers, and over a dozen women who skate for New England Roller Derby.

It's no longer the banked-track version of WWF we may remember from TV. Now it's more athletic and the women come from all walks of life. So far, I've met 2 teachers, an insurance adjuster, a graduate film studies student, a mid-level college administrator, a special education para professional who works with autistic children, a veterinarian, and two computer wonks. They range in age from low twenties to high thirties, and they're all a hoot.

I'm still clarifying details and hope to start the actual writing in another month or so, but I've become a major fan of the sport now and don't miss a local match.

My biggest problem now is how I'm going to fit all the cool info into a book that's under a thousand pages!

Lori L. Lake said...

I did an incredible amount of research for my WWII/Gypsy novel, SNOW MOON RISING. I must have read 20 books on WWII, 12 on the Roma, and thousands of pages off the Internet. All of that served to inform and educate me, and the knowledge base was handy and helpful in crafting the story and plotline. But of all the data I learned and all the history I took in, I bet less than 1% actually made it into the book.

Lori L. Lake

Patricia Haddock said...

I interviewed an Eastern Orthodox priest who performed exorcisms. He looked like a scholar, with a solemn face and slight build.

Sarah G said...

I like to set stories in towns that USED to exist. One snowy day, my spouse and I went out in search of Fisher's Mill, KY so I could get an idea of the terrain.

We drove back and forth along the proper road, but we didn't see anything. Finally, we spotted a turnoff. "Maybe that's it."

Behind some houses, we found the remains of buildings from the 1800's, plus the carcass of a '50's car with fins. I felt like Heinrich Schliemann discovering Troy!