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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Joy of Research

I love research.

There. I can admit. I love the fact that now I know a stamp cost 3 cents in 1943. That a movie ticket was 17 cents. That half of all K-9s used during World War II by the military were trained at a remote fort in Nebraska. That there were less than 1,000 nurses in the army before Pearl Harbor but more than 12,000 a year later. Can you guess what kind of book I'm researching right now?

I love details.

The highest compliment I can get as a writer is surprise when a reader realizes I'm 32 rather than in my late 70s. That there is no way I lived during the early 40s but I captured the time.

I hate bad research. One of the biggest stoppers for me when reading a book is hitting a detail or fact that I know is wrong. I don't want to give my readers those kind of opportunities to hurl a book against the wall or throw it under the bed to languish, forgotten and unfinished.

So I read books, I review websites (but focus on the ones by people and organizations who were there or preserve that history). I talk to people. I compile all kinds of trivia that I may never actually use, but when sprinkled lightly into the story will give it the ring of authenticity. Now if I could only make myself put the research down and write the proposals all that research is for!

Cara Putman is an attorney and author who lives in Indiana with her family. Her first book, Canteen Dreams, will release in October 2007 by Heartsong Presents. And you guessed it, it's a story set during World War II.


Anonymous said...

We could trade could do my research and I could write your proposals. :) LOL

Gina said...

I love research also, I just don't have the time! And I struggle with getting EVERY detail right.

For example, I'm at the point where my online research is exhausted and I still don't have all the answers I need! Some of it is really important, like the location of certain buildings on the real site of my WIP, and I don't know if I need to call the place and inquire.

Has anyone else had to make a call like this and what did you say?

CHickey said...

Research is fun. There isn't much call for it in the books I write. I write Suspense. Maybe one day I'll write a Historical Suspense.

Cheryl Shaw said...

I don't know what your site is, but most places consider this good tourism PR. Again, not knowing what type of place you are looking at, I can't give you much more advice on the call, except just do it - tell the first person who answers what you need and let them answer or direct you elsewhere.
Most people are happy to talk about themselves/their work/their town.

Gina said...

Thanks Cheryl, It's Mt. Vernon. I've already emailed and haven't heard back yet. I was hoping I wouldn't have to step into the reporter's role, especially since my story is a mystery and I'll be asking security questions. I don't want them to think I'm casing the joint! :)

Tina said...

Can you teach me how to do that research thing? :)