Research–A Little, A Lot, Or None At All

Hello Fellow Readers–

This is a question I get asked all the time: “How much research do you have to do for a book?”  Well, it all depends on the book and the topic.  Sometimes I need to do a lot, and sometimes none at all, and everywhere in between.

For my Annie Malone, P.I. suspense novel, Double Digits, I did a ton of reading about serial killers–what they were like as kids, what the first signs were that something was mentally wrong with them, how they justify their crimes to themselves, and what kinds of thought processes they go through before committing a crime.  I spoke with a Public Relations guy at Tehatchapi prison, so I’d know what the place looked like and what visitors to the prison go through.  It was a lot of work, but luckily I’ve always loved doing research.

For my first Stevie Coral MysteryMountain Spirits, Desert Deceptions, I already knew about how land leases worked in the Palm Springs area, so I used that information in my notes.  I had the privilege of interviewing a Native American Medicine Woman, and she filled in anything I didn’t know –ceremonies, customs, animal spirits, etc.  It was a wonderful learning experience!

And here’s something you may not know about writers.  Most of us are the inquisitive type.  I think we’re lucky.  We get to explore a lot of different things–all in the name of writing books.  How fun is that!

But sometimes there are questions we can’t find answers to.  For example, in A Tangled Yarn (the fourth book in the Two Old Biddies Mini-Mystery Series), I wanted a plane to land in the lake without a pilot, so people would think a ghost must have been at the controls.  Try Googling that!  It couldn’t be remote controlled, because they would see a receiver in the plane.

After a couple of hours of searching, speaking with a local pilot, etc., I gave up.  I needed a break, so I turned on the TV and began flipping through the channels.  Low and behold, I landed on a program that was talking about the new parachutes that were being installed in private planes.  It was the perfect solution to my story problem. Talk about serendipity!  I still smile when I think about the timing–I was in the right place, the right time, and on the right channel.  I guess the Universe heard my call for help.  Amazing, right?

Do I do deep research for every book?  No.  A lot of times I pull from past experiences–going on a cruise, walking through a cemetery, belonging to a knit group, taking care of my mom who had Alzheimer’s, etc.  I use those experiences to color my stories.

But however much background information I use, I hope to tell you, my readers, an interesting story.  Maybe you have some ideas for future books.  Contact me.  Who knows what will spark something new that I can research and write about?

Until next time, Happy Reading to You All…and don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list.  You’ll be notified of new books and lots of other fun stuff.


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