I love research. I wasn’t always this way. In fact, I sucked at it. This was back before dinosaurs when I was first trying to get published. The days of libraries and Dewey Decimal (look it up, you babies). I knew I could write a story. I’d been doing it for my friends since I was ten. But write about something with which I wasn’t familiar? Well, let me put it this way. My first Kathleen Korbel book was about an ER nurse and Tom Selleck in St. Louis (PLAYING THE GAME). My second book was about a rural nurse who discovered an injured man at the bottom of a cliff (STRANGER’S SMILE). My third book was about an ER doc who meets a cop when she’s held hostage for drugs in her ER (WORTH ANY RISK). You begin to see a pattern here, I imagine.
I’m a nurse. Nurses don’t use libraries to learn stuff. We play with things. So I decided that I would perfect my storytelling as I learned how to research. And then, a miracle happened. Its called Google. Suddenly the world opened up to me. Where before if I wanted information I had to interview people, now I could sit home and break time and space barriers at a whim. I could write a book set anywhere, any time, because, with Google, I could find the tiniest details (did you know there was a full moon the night of Waterloo?) (It was important in the first book in my Drakes’ Rakes series, BARELY A LADY).
So for my new book, ONCE A RAKE, besides the obvious (what did she wear? What did they drive? How long does it take to get from London to Bath?), what research would I have to do? Well, let’s see. ONCE A RAKE stars Sarah Clark, and Ian Ferguson, one of my Drake’s Rakes. If you read my last book, ALWAYS A TEMPTRESS, you’ll know that I left Ian shot, accused of treason, and bobbing around in the English Channel (yes, I tend to be hard on my heroes). So I began with the particulars of the English Channel, the south coast of England (where would Ian land? How would he hide/find transportation/discover his heroine?), Wellington’s movements (Ian is accused of trying to shoot him) and treason. For Sarah I had to study up on Devonshire army regiments, (Sarah’s husband went off to fight at Waterloo), laws of primogeniture (since her husband hasn’t made it back, who inherits?) (his very evil cousin), the Great Black breed of pigs (did I also tell you that Sarah’s best friend is a 600 pound pig?), the whereabouts of Princess Charlotte, since she is vital to the nefarious villains, (she was in Weymouth, which impacted where Ian would wash ashore) (Trust me. It would).
And somehow, I also stumbled over paleontology, fossils, and the very remarkable Mary Anning, who makes a cameo in Ian’s book. I didn’t intend to. But when I was deciding where to place Sarah’s estate, I discovered the Jurassic Coast, around Lyme Regis, where Mary, an untutored sixteen-year-old, removed the first intact skeleton of a dinosaur, and Jane Austen tossed Louisa Musgrave from the Cobb. I even got to walk through Lyme myself, retracing both Austen’s steps and those of my own heroine as she fought to save her hero.
For now, I think this will do. From all those bits and streams of information, I was able to build a skeleton of my own, over which I could drape my story of Ian and Sarah, two unlikely lovers who must find themselves in the middle of a plot to overthrow the throne. And believe me. All the research helps. Well, it helped me. Without it, I would have had two people walking around with nothing to do and nobody to meet.
Eileen is giving away a signed print of ONCE A RAKE to one (1) lucky commenter. Research, how do y’all feel about it from a reader’s standpoint? I’m partial to a well researched book myself & have learned so much from them. Giveaway ends @12am est 11-5-13. Good luck!