Today’s Guest Post is provided by Michele Drier, author of SNAP: The World Unfolds, a vampire romance, and the mystery Edited for Death which debuted October 1 from Mainly Murder Press. Enjoy!
Search? Or Research?
OK, raise your hand if you ever played “What If?”
I did, and I probably still do. It’s trying to figure out those things that make you go “Huh!” That’s a part of why I write. I keep it grounded in things I know, but then start asking, “what if”…what if some bodies showed up and no one cared? , what if the company you worked for was owned by vampires?
To keep grounded, and to cut down on research, I’ve set both of my series—the vampire romance ones with Maxie Gwenoch as the Managing Editor of the celebrity magazine SNAP, and the daily newspaper series with Amy Hobbes as the editor—in media newsrooms. This is the old “write what you know” canard and is a useful adage. If you stick to a familiar setting, your research has begun.
Even though I spent a lot of time with various police departments and officers during my newspaper career, I’d never try to write a police procedural. I wouldn’t feel comfortable closing my eyes and imaging a squad room, or driving a beat with a partner.
But if you’re comfortable with the setting, you have oceans of room for research on the plot and characters.
For my mystery, Edited for Death, I knew that the plot would turn on a theft of a piece if art stolen from the Nazis in WWII. I spent some time looking at articles about works of art that showed up some 60 years later and was astounded to realize that there are STILL pieces being found. Research on the Second World War was easy, but when one of my characters decided that he was going to be present when the death camp at Dachau was liberated, I hit Google again.
This side trip ended up with the information that some of the GIs who liberated Dachau lined up about 100 of the German guards and shot them, out of shock and revulsion at what they found. An odd fact that I’d never known, but one that gave a major character motivation for an abrupt change of heart.
Then there are the XXX researches—the notes you put in so that you’ll remember to look it up. Because I write as a pantser—I don’t outline anything, I start writing at Page One and just continue—this somewhat casual approach to researching worked for me.
At least until I decided to tackle a completely different genre—vampire romance. I don’t usually read this genre so had a lot of bottom-line research to do—like read some of this genre and figure out pacing and plotting. I owe a big thank you to Sookie Stackhouse and her friends!
So, even though I was getting involved in the vamps, demons, shape-shifters, I kept the setting where I was comfortable—the offices of a gossip/celebrity magazine. SNAP The Magazine is way beyond my actual media experience, but then I’ve never met a vampire, either!
In researching SNAP, I spent time with blood substitutes, Vlad the Impaler and international time differences and learned really fast how popular this genre is, something my daughter and her husband had been telling me for months.
Searching and researching gives me license to read and I love it. There are so many amazing pieces of information available in our world and with the internet and search engines, everybody can play “What if?”
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz to a pioneer family and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state and has called both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at large and small daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series. She lives in the Central Valley with cats, skunks, opossums and wild turkeys.
You can visit her website at www.micheledrier.com. Michele is also on facebook (Michele Drier) and Twitter (@MicheleDrier).