Research, Research, Research

I find that a lot of time, research takes more time than the actual writing itself. Maybe they always tell authors to "write what you know" because it's so much easier.

As an example, I'm writing a travel scene in my new post-apocalyptic TEOTWAWKI novel and I need to know whether my characters are going uphill on the road they're traveling or downhill. Google Maps helps, and I've been reading travel blogs, looking at the sparse number of photos of the area, etc. Thank God for the internet, eh?

When I wrote The Selkie Wife, I had most of the research in my head already, but I still had to check a few things. If I was describing a dress, I had to make sure that the material I was using was actually available and that it didn't violate sumptuary laws. During a wedding, I had to make sure the order of the service, and the wording of the vows was correct. What was the weather like on the day Mary I married Philip of Spain? What happened to the body of Jane Grey if it didn't end up in the chapel of St. Peter-ad-Vincula as most have assumed? (The last led me to a ghoulishly entertaining document on the Victorian renovations of the chapel and the skeletons they found beneath the floor.)

Today, I was describing an old train station that actually exists. It's no longer used for the purpose for which it was designed, and so I searched for photos of the interior. I found a teenage girl's travel blog, and she mentioned as an aside that her train had stopped there, but that the only area of the building open to the public was the restrooms. I surrendered. I'm going to have to make up the interior and just hope that I don't get reviews that express irritation with the inaccuracy.

Am I too obsessive with the research? Maybe. But I think readers do appreciate the accuracy. I know that I rarely read historical fiction because the inaccuracies bother me (which is why I only watched two episodes of The Tudors on HBO.)


  1. I love how relatable your stories are to history. It makes your stories that much more believable. I think I learned and retained more information from The Selkie Wife than I did in school. Can't wait to read more from you.

  2. I hate the way they teach history in school. They make it so boring, a parade of names and dates, when it's actually got some really entertaining stories.

  3. Your research is noted and appreciated. By being accurate, you are telling your audience that you respect them as a reader. Thank you for your hard work!

  4. Hey! Details are what make a good plop into a GREAT story! Don't worry, your hard work pays out.


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