Welcome to the Big Reveal
I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
Do you do a lot of research for your writing?
The better question is have I ever written a novel that doesn’t require a lot of research. I’m a research nut. Informationaholic. I graduated in History and love to dig deep into places, cultures, people, facts.
I wish I could do all of my research before I write then just write but there is no way I can possibly think of all of the questions I will have to address as I craft a story. What did they use for privies? Did that album even exists then? What kind of tree would be native to that part of the world? Would they EVER have the opportunity to have a private conversation? I research before I write, while I write, and while I edit.
I’ve written historical fiction in several time periods and cultures, which takes more research than most people want to think about—all the details from what kind of fabric they made clothing out of to societal expectations for age groups and genders. I think the hardest thing to nail down are the attitudes that would be prevalent in another time and place. Before I start writing, I do a ton of research to try and get myself in the appropriate mind frame. As I write, I’m constantly pausing to check a fact or find deeper specifics. Did you know that in 1750, King George the 1st established a marriage law that made the legal marriage age 21? Think that would fly today?
Google is my friend. I find I’m constantly check information on it. From little things like the weather somewhere at a certain time of the year, to things that take more research like telekinesis and the use of your brain.
Most of my work doesn’t require a lot of research. If I do need to look into something, I’ll do a bit before I start writing, so I have some basic idea, then I’ll do more thorough research after.
I don’t need to do tons of research, but when I do I usually do a mix of before and throughout writing as and when questions come up. I can’t say I’ve ever discovered anything fascinating, sadly!
Though my Cragbridge Hall series is a crazy romp through a futuristic academy with amazing inventions, because it is set in a school and involves some time travel, it also includes a lot of real information and history. I just turned in a draft of Cragbridge Hall, Book 3, The Impossible Race. This book has a crazy tournament, where teams race from invention to invention doing challenges, so I got to study up on Joan of Arc, peregrine falcons, Nickola Tesla, Mars, Greek Mythology, Dinosaurs in ancient Argentina, the first American spy, acid lakes, and dragons in literature. If real info is a major part of the plot, I have to study ahead of time. If not, I can study as I go.
What kind of research do you do for your writing?