Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Joys of Research

We’re writers, which makes everything our business! That’s because writing is only part of the fun. Research is a wonderful perk that goes right along with it.

So what do we research? Anything and everything that we might ever write about. Of course our focus tends to be on what we’re writing now.

For one thing, I have lots of fun with locations, when I can. I set my upcoming (sometime) Silhouette Nocturne on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which isn’t far from some property we own in Glen Burnie. It’s a kick researching the area. Not to mention werewolves. I’m considering a sequel that could take place in Alaska, which is also a great place to visit. And then there’s L.A. I live here, and it’s a great place to write about... so I do.

With me, in case you haven’t guessed, a lot of research is about animals... or, sometimes, quasi-animals. Unless, of course, you happen to believe that shapeshifters are real. I haven’t run across a real one in my research, but I’m keeping an open mind.

I’ve been plotting the seventh Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery. Each of the stories has featured different kinds of pets--dogs and cats, of course, and also ferrets, macaws, iguanas and even ball pythons.

So what’s next? Well, I’m relatively certain it’s potbellied pigs. One has already appeared in several of the Kendra books, but I’ve got an idea of how to focus on more piggies in a unique kind of way. And that gives me latitude to conduct some fun research.

I’ve been in contact with a really delightful local lady who both owns and rescues pigs, and I got to visit her home recently. I adored her household! And so far, it appears that pigs are every bit as intelligent as I’ve read, so I think I can use them the way I’d hoped in this upcoming story.

How? Well, I know I’m being cryptic, but I don’t want to give anything away. And if I say too much, it could spoil one of the subplots of Double Dog Dare, the sixth Kendra story, which will be available in June 2008. And that means that Kendra #7--and I’m still thinking about its working title--won’t be out until sometime in 2009. So, for now, I’m just hoping to pique your curiosity with my potbellied pig references. Could things change? Sure. That’s part of the fun of creating.

Meantime, I’ll continue to have fun with my research.

Stay tuned, pig lovers!



Sheila Connolly said...

Hear, hear! And hasn't research shown that learning new things keeps our minds active and alert (well, William Shatner said so on Boston Legal)? And the flip side is, almost everything becomes research. You start talking to a stranger in a check-out line, and discover he or she has a fascinating hobby, and away you go.

Isn't being a writer fun?

Felicia Donovan said...

Linda, great post, but I think there must be something inherent in writers that make them want to do all that research in the first place. I know a lot of people in other disciplines who balk at the idea of having to research a topic, rather than a journey towards authenticity.

Felicia Donovan

Camille Minichino said...

Interesting comment, Felicia. I always considered myself NOT a fan of historical research and now I'm finding that I love it. I created a fictional town, Lincoln Point, and I'm now reading more about Lincoln and that era than I need or ever thought I'd want to know.
Maybe it's inherent in writers as you say or maybe it's just easier than writing!

Felicia Donovan said...

Camille, I think it IS a part of being a writer. I recently had the opportunity to meet Tess Gerritsen, who, along with Jodi Picoult (whom I've also met) are, of course, masterful storytellers who go to painstaking lengths to research their novels.

Tess was recently lambasted by a reviewer for intertwining real historical figures with fictional ones in THE BONE GARDEN, but the person she mentioned was paramount to the storyline.

Both women are tremendously successful because of their ability to intertwine detailed research within their fictional worlds lending a great deal of authenticity to their stories. I have no problem with that whatsoever. They can write all they want about me in a hundred years. "Felicia Who?"

Felicia Donovan

Linda O. Johnston said...

Being a writer is great, Sheila! And, Felicia, I also think it's a good thing to intertwine reality we learn by research with the fiction of the scenarios we write. In some instances, I've created fictional towns, too, Camille. As a lawyer, I don't really want people to see themselves in what I write... most of the time!

Felicia Donovan said...

Linda, it's interesting how many people that I know personally assume they know who my characters are based on. I have said repeatedly that they are "works of fiction" and that like all characters, they are an amalgam of many people I've known in my life.

Felicia Donovan