Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Research, research, research!

After reading an editor's blog post about fiction writers needing to do enough research to make the settings and characters in their stories ring true, I went back and did a little more for my work in progress, Noah's Ark, that will go to Barbour's Heartsong Presents bookclub members in October 2009. Some of the information wasn't clear online, so I called Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia and spoke to Byron Clercx, the chairman of the Department of Art and Design, to get more specific answers. What a nice man! He not only answered my questions as they pertained to my story, he gave me more information about the area. Now I have the strongest urge to write more books set in Huntington! From what I've read and heard, not only is it a gorgeous place, the strong sense of community lends itself to what I write—Christian fiction.

Something I've learned is that most people love to help writers, as long as they have a passion for their subject. Over the past twenty years, I've interviewed hundreds of people, and with only a small handful of exceptions, they've told me way more than I requested, making the experience even richer than anything I could have hoped for.

My Summerside Press book, Love Finds You In Treasure Island, Florida, is another example. Jeff Jensen who works for the city in a community relations capacity gave me enough information to add scenes I'd never even thought of. Then I called Captain Kosmakos, a favorite restaurant in the area, to find out what was on their menu. By the time I got off the phone with Phyllis Kelly, I was dying for some of their fabulous, mouthwatering seafood.

If you're a writer, what experiences have you had with interviews? Have they been good, bad, or neutral? Have you been rewarded with more than you ever expected?


Janet Spaeth said...

I haven't exactly interviewed anyone, but I have picked up the phone and asked a specific question. I also love love love historical societies. They're the best!

Jessica said...

Hi Debby,
It was great to meet you on Saturday! You're definitely a busy woman, but I really appreciated how you shared info and talked with us. You are a funny lady! :-)
Congrats on all the books!
I had to get some info on my contemporary, and everyone I spoke to, from a lawyer to a lady working at the prison, were really helpful.

Debby Mayne said...

Hi, Jessica! It's great to hear from you! Isn't it fun to do research and meet all those interesting people? That's one of the things I enjoy most about writing.