Interviewers often ask what is my favorite part of writing, and my first response is brainstorming. I love tossing around ideas with other writers or my editors or my agent. I love that first breath of a story when anything and everything is possible.
But a close second has to be doing research. Especially for an historical novel. No surprise since one of my two favorite subjects throughout school was the study of history (the second favorite being English). And when I say history, I mean pretty much any time period, any setting.
For every novel I write, I probably buy at least five non-fiction research books. I also pull countless pages off the Internet, although a writer must be careful about information obtained there. The source matters.
My WIP (work-in-progress) is set in 1900 in Idaho. Politics is involved (books on Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders are now on my Kindle). Fashion matters (I own a number of historical fashion books for this time period already). The jobs of various house servants must be correct (discovered a new gem to help me out on this; it arrived via UPS on Thursday). Horses; there are always horses in my books. And even though I owned and raised horses for a number of years, there is always something new to learn.
I love gathering old photographs from the time period whenever possible. Advertisements and other graphics from those years are also helpful.
You know what the danger is for someone like me? I could go on doing research forever and never get around to actually writing the story I’m researching for. Because every new thing I learn suggests something more I need to learn or something I just would like to know more about, even if it doesn’t fit into my story. I have to guard against staying too long in the research.
Oh, and might I add, after all these years of reading and reading and reading, I am a fount of historical tidbits (oftentimes called “useless information”). Not quite as much these days as I used to be (aging brain = less memory recall), but still firing on most pistons.
Someone once said I talked like I’m from a hundred years ago. LOL! Guilty as charged. I do sometimes use terms or phrases from the 1800’s or early 1900’s without thinking about it. They sound so normal in my ears I don’t realize how not normal they sound to my contemporaries.
Well, my hero and heroine are currently dining in a very fashionable restaurant and have ordered Bouchée Columbia with French Peas for their supper. They dine, of course, by candlelight and there is romantic music playing in the background (a string ensemble). Excuse me while I see what she is thinking and how he will respond.