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?