Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Novel Research Topics: Pareos and Telegrams

The Tahitian word for a wraparound skirt is pareu or pareo. Currently, the word is applied to any piece of cloth worn wrapped around the body, by both men and women. The pareo is related to the Malay sarong, Filipino tapis, and Samoan lavalava. All are garments of the Pacific Islands such as the Marquesas Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Hawaiian Islands.

When I included the use of a pareo in one of my novels, it took no research effort as I had been wearing pareos at home for many years and took them for granted. But I did research the word when I first started buying them for their colorful patterns and comfort. Ubiquitous in Hawai'i, the pareo can be seen on the beach, poolside, and always around the home. The local ABC stores have an array of delightful patterns on display, the complementary hues so tantalizing that I have a small collection to choose from for after showering or just staying cool until the evening temperature drops.


Although I was already familiar with pareos, the mention of a telegram in the novel did require a bit more research. I have never received a telegram. But while my father was in the Army, he received one from his mother announcing the information of my birth. (Not the telegram displayed here.) He was granted leave as WWII had been declared ended months earlier.

Telegram from 1920

Not all telegrams were welcome, though. Samuel Morse had created the telegraph because when his wife died he didn’t receive notice until weeks later. The telegram became known for reporting world-shattering events. Telegrams were used to announce the start of WWI. And during WWII, the War Department sent notification through Western Union to advise families of the death of their loved ones serving in the military.

*****

Excerpt from Island Cruise Homicide


Back at the Seaside Motel, I took a leisurely shower and washed my hair. Once the cruise got underway, such luxuries would be less accessible. Wrapped in a colorful rayon pareo, I stretched across the bed to glance through a magazine article about life on other planets. Since our successful moon landing eight years ago, the news included multiple reports aimed at intensifying exploration of outer space. Yet, in a lifetime, no single individual could experience all that our own planet had to offer.

A knock came at the door. Expecting Rick, my husband of two years and the father of my teenaged son, I waited for him to use his key. But a second knock followed, accompanied by a short pronouncement. “Telegram for Pepper Bibeau.”

Securing the pareo a bit tighter around myself, I moved toward the door. Rick’s voice played in my head, “No good news ever comes by telegram.”

*****

Telegrams still exist, but with the proliferation of cell phones and the internet they are no longer in common use. Have you ever sent or received a telegram? 

   

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Novel Topic: Accept All Things You Choose to Blame

By example, my parents taught their children that moving on from tragedy and struggles was the best path to a fulfilling life. This influenced me to include a chapter in my genealogical novel, SHARDS OF MEMORY - Oral History in a Heartbeat, that deals with “blame” 

In Miquel Reina’s Lights on the Sea (see Monday’s posted book review) Mr. and Mrs. Grapes held on to their blame and anguish for thirty-five long years. The grandparents in Shards of Memory (Art, Charlie, Jewel, and Ida), however, each chose a unique way to deal with blame.

Chapter Sixteen (excerpt)

“How did you reconcile your feelings after the accident, Charlie?” Art asked, reviving the stalled conversation.

Everyone else had already opened up about dealing with the guilt, or the blame. Art had admitted he blamed the accident on fate. He dealt with most things that way, especially the bad stuff. Some folks attributed his laid-back attitude to his Irish heritage, as though he and all of Ireland’s population were lazy. He disagreed. Years ago, he had figured out that brushing off irritants and moving on gave him more time to feel good about himself and those around him. Hanging the bad stuff on fate helped move things along that much faster.

Ida shifted in the chair, allowing for a better view of her husband. Charlie hadn’t yet answered Art’s question. She knew he would mull over the answer endlessly before sharing his thoughts. Her answer had followed Art’s, with no hesitation on her part.

After the accident, Ida had lost her faith in God. Not in His existence, but in the concept of an all-forgiving being that watched over everyone. She continued to attend Sunday mass, and recite her rosary. But something inside her had broken, and Ida blamed God for that feeling.

Charlie cleared his throat as though to make an attempt at answering Art’s question. Then he turned toward the window facing the back yard. His gaze froze on the cherry tree that held center stage in the garden area. He remained quiet.

Jewel looked from her husband over to Ida, and then to Charlie. There were times she wished Art wouldn’t talk so much. But Charlie’s silences bothered her more. Once Art and Ida had shared their thoughts about dealing with the built-up guilt over the accident, Jewel thought Charlie should have gone next. But when he only shook his head, she had taken her turn.

To deal with the guilt, Jewel blamed everyone else for anything and everything. Expressing anger over personal slights gave her the release she needed from the constant tension. Feeling anger rising now over Charlie’s inability to answer Art’s question, she decided to relieve some of the tension they all must be feeling.

“Charlie,” she said, none too patiently, “let’s hear your answer. It’s time to put all this to bed.”

Appearing to snap out of some sort of reverie, Charlie looked around the table, stopping to search each face. No one offered a word of encouragement. This was his one-man show.

“You blamed fate, isn’t that right, Art?” When Charlie received a silent nod to his question, he continued. “And Jewel, you blamed everyone else for everything, while Ida chose to blame God.”

Again, his words were met with silence. No one attempted to contradict his statements or justify their own thinking. Charlie took this as confirmation that everyone was here in good faith, not to judge but to support one another.

“Those are all valid and understandable reasons; everyone grieves or deals with loss in different ways.” Charlie turned to Ida who offered a quick smile of encouragement for him to continue. “That also states my problem. I don’t believe strongly enough in fate to place blame there. It is not in my nature to blame others, so Jewel’s solution wouldn’t work for me, either. And I have no doubt that fear keeps me from ever blaming God. So you see my dilemma?”

Art didn’t think much of psychology. Getting into people’s heads the way Freud and Jong liked to do held no interest for him. What he saw is what he accepted in others. “So, what are you saying Charlie?” he asked. “You couldn’t find someone to blame, so you decided to forget about it?”

Ida gasped and attempted to comment, but Jewel patted her hand. “Let them work this one out,” she whispered. Both women sat back, arms crossed in repose, and waited.

“There was nothing and no one for me to blame,” Charlie said. “And with nowhere to place that blame, I had to own it. I blamed myself for everything.”

“All these years you did that?” Art asked.

Charlie worked to hold back a smile over Art’s penchant for wearing his emotions on his sleeve. At times, Charlie longed for the ability to express himself openly. But, as Ida was fond of saying, he always had to think and rethink everything to death.

“For quite a while, every time I saw Gahlen, the guilt clawed its way out of my gut and waved its flag in my face. Once I got better control of myself, things quieted down. But it took something extraordinary for me to stop blaming myself.” He glanced around the table to see if anyone was even listening; everyone was. “Remember how we all decided to help Gahlen through the rough times by telling family stories?”

“Sure, that was a great idea,” Art said. Ida and Jewel both nodded their assent.

“Well, as it turns out, Gahlen is the one who helped me through the rough times. The child accepts whatever life has to offer, never playing the blame game regardless how tough things get. I’ve never heard one complaint about missing out on sports, or growing tired of doctor’s appointments.”

“What about not having a driver’s license?” Art asked, thinking of Gahlen’s many complaints over not being able to drive. Everyone laughed, slicing through the tension in the room.

“You see,” Charlie said, “Gahlen taught me that placing blame is not a lasting solution.”

“So what is?” Jewel asked, amazed that Charlie was talking so much.

“Acceptance,” Charlie said. “Acceptance of all the things we choose to blame. Fate. God. Other people. Ourselves. Of all our solutions, I think Art made the best choice. At least by blaming fate, he really wasn’t blaming anyone else.” 

*****


Monday, June 21, 2021

Book Review: Lights on the Sea by Miquel Reina

Have you ever enjoyed a book enough to read it again? Although I seldom revisit a novel, after first reading Lights on the Sea in 2019, I knew this was a book I would read again. A recent second reading allowed me to more fully appreciate the struggles of both main characters as they slowly dealt with their tragic past.

Review of Lights on the Sea by Miquel Reina

The house of Mr. and Mrs. Grapes, which overlooks a vast ocean, lays precariously close to the edge of Death’s Cliff. Due to extensive erosion of the cliff’s porous volcanic rock, Harold and Mary Rose Grapes are being forced to move from the home where they continue to mourn the loss of their son thirty-five years ago. The night before the move, a fierce storm sends the house and its two sleeping occupants down the cliff and sailing off into the ocean.
 

To even begin the healing process of thirty-five years of stagnation and regret requires a violent uprooting. As Harold and Mary Rose drift at the mercy of the ocean tides, the many death-threatening struggles they encounter slowly bring awareness to the futility of blame and lack of forgiveness. 

Some suspension of disbelief was required to immerse myself in their physical journey. Their emotional journey, however, was immediately all too real. Allegorical in nature, the author’s tale explores the consequences of placing blame and refusing to move forward after tragedy strikes. 

Lights on the Sea is a translation of Miquel Reina’s Spanish edition Lucus en el Mar.

*****

Upcoming post, Wednesday June 23 - My Novel Research Topic: Accept All Things You Choose to Blame (Excerpt from Shards of Memorymy genealogical novel).

*****


Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Daughter's Gratitude on FATHER'S DAY


September 1945
Dad on leave in Wisconsin
posing with his three children 

Daniel F. Baugniet served in the military during WWII. Though he never saw combat, Daniel fully realized what was expected of soldiers, and the likelihood of his being shipped to a warfront. His first cousin had joined the Army in 1941, and received the Purple Heart after being seriously wounded.

While my father served in the military, my mother accepted the responsibility of maintaining a normal home life. Once the war ended, Dad arrived home safely. He was prepared once again to support and care for his family, which had increased to four children upon my birth in late 1945.



Dad holding Gail while wading
in the cold water of Lake Michigan
1947 

Although soft-spoken, Dad's infectious laughter sent a wave of smiles around the room at any gathering. Throughout his life, he was affectionately known to family and friends as Danny. He was from "the old school" where part-time side businesses supplemented the salary of a 40-hour a week job; and wildlife, fresh fish, and home-raised chickens complemented grocery store purchases.

His family never experienced hunger - or a lack of desserts. Dad loved to finish off meals with something sweet. We didn't know we were "spoiled" with daily helpings of ice cream, homemade pies, and bakery goods. Sunday morning breakfast meant bacon and eggs, topped off with frosted coffee cake with raisins.

If he wasn't working or fishing, Dad spent his time maintaining or fixing things around the house. Then he started building and selling residential homes on property we had called "the back yard" most of our lives. Friday night was one of the few times he relaxed in front of the television. He enjoyed watching boxing (Rocky Marciano and Sonny Liston come to mind), some wrestling, and Gunsmoke. He and Mom had several card clubs that filled their Saturday evenings, late into the night with midnight "snacks" - served to counter the brandy old-fashioneds.


50th Wedding Anniversary
celebration at Fox Hills in Wisconsin

Dad died in 2004. I am extremely grateful that I was granted the opportunity to know my father and enjoy his love and quiet sense of humor for almost sixty years.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, Dad, and Aloha

to all fathers on this Sunday of celebration!

*****


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Cam Lang - Author: "Novel Research" Interview

After posting a series of 26 articles for April’s AtoZ Blog Challenge focused on personal research topics, I was eager to read about the topics other writers had researched for their own projects. This resulted in a Novel Research project (“novel” meaning interesting, different, unusual), which will focus on topics researched for various reasons, such as for a book, an essay, a blog post, or family genealogy. 

To this end, I am inviting other writers to participate in the project by sharing information about their “novel” research into a specific topic. Each is given free rein to write from any angle, and all are welcome to sprinkle the article with personal experiences and/or anecdotes relevant to the research topic. 

*****

Gail: Today's guest, Cam Lang, had his first novel published in December, 2020. His research efforts, however, stretch throughout his career. I’ve asked Cam to first share his bio, including one new or previously undisclosed detail about himself. 

Cam: Hi Gail, thanks so much for the invitation to participate in this interview. 

I’m an urban planner, designer, and development manager in my day job, which entails writing incredibly technical and boring memos, reports, and briefs. You can never inject humor into these (I always have to bite my tongue) so I’ve always chosen emails to friends as an outlet to unleash my sardonic wit and creativity. 

A few years ago, a friend suggested I should do more creative writing. So when the pandemic hit, I decided to write a novel about the erosion of a historic small town. I’m an avid runner and cyclist and believe that planning our cities and towns around the automobile is unsustainable (spoiler alert!). 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Gail: As an avid runner and cyclist, you would have a vested interest in your town’s development of pedestrian and biking trails. And for the development of your novel, which of the various methods of research did you use? 

Cam: Most of the information in my novel comes from first-hand knowledge. But I did interview various specialists (grape growers, winery owners, lawyers, politicians) to get a better handle on some of the issues and angles I was writing about in The Concrete Vineyard.

 

My novel is also a political thriller so I interviewed a former town councilor to get more insight

Brock Monument
photo by author
into the dynamics of how small town councils function and operate. Given the historic setting of my story (the first capital of Upper Canada), I also included a lot of information on the War of 1812; references to soldier's uniforms, dates of battles, etc. Even though I grew up in this place, I needed to ensure my references were accurate by consulting reputable books.

 

I do use the internet for research but never use it as a single reliable source; its information must be verified. You can’t get your information wrong, even in a fiction novel. You’ll lose your credibility.

 

I found the research I was conducting to be an iterative process. Although most of my research took place before my first draft, I was constantly adding and revising plotlines so it was necessary to keep digging for and validating information, even into the editing process. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gail: And what "novel" research topic have you chosen for today? 

Cam: Urban planning. The saying goes, ‘write what you know’, so that’s exactly what I did. I started writing a non-fiction book about growth and development issues affecting my historic hometown of Niagara-on-the-Lake and quickly realized that nobody would read it. Very few people find urban planning interesting so I needed to spice it up. 

That’s when I decided to kill someone (not literally) and turn my non-fiction book into a ‘whodunit’ murder mystery. When people ask me what books are similar to mine, I can't provide a good answer because I haven't come across them. My novel is like that rare house or property that has no comparables in real estate (another spoiler alert!).  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

You can visit Cam at his social media sites:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CamLangAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Cam-Lang-Author/100060001244953/ 

And check out his book, The Concrete Vineyard, at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PJB3D6W

                                       *****

Reading detailed information about urban planning, especially growth and development issues, may sound dry. But it attracts heightened interest when personally impacting the lives of a community’s families and individuals.

How has a controversial planning project impacted daily life in your area?

 * * * * *


Monday, June 14, 2021

Book Review: The Concrete Vineyard by Cam Lang

When choosing the next book to read, my range of genres expands with each month's new selections. The choices range from classics to beginning-of-series to newly published (Self-Indie-Big5). Mysteries are always my first go-to choice for a relaxing read on a lazy afternoon. 

But the list of genres is endless, especially now that each has at least one sub-genre. The Thriller/Suspense genre alone comes in a number of sub-genres including espionage, political, legal, eco-terror, disaster, treasure, medical, and sci-fi. Think Ian Fleming, Kathy Reichs, Clive Cussler . . . another list that goes on endlessly.

With so many sub-genres in mind, one would think there is nothing new in the world to write about, no new genre to discover. Yet, innovative writers find themselves scrambling to label their new novel to fit within the confines of an ever-widening range of definitions.

One such writer is Cam Lang, whose new novel defies neat classification in the thriller genre. In my review, I classify the novel as a mystery. (In my own defense, I believe every story contains a mystery to hook the reader.) But better you decide the genre for yourself.

"THE CONCRETE VINEYARD" by Cam Lang

This intricately plotted mystery, set in Ontario, first drew my attention because of a decades-long genealogical interest in Canadian history. The novel’s protagonist, Urban Planner Kris Gage arranges a month’s vacation to relax in his hometown of Niagara-on-the-Lake, only to quickly have his plans go off the rails. He is asked to help gain project approval for a friend's winery in the small town, and to assist in solving the murder of a highly prestigious 90-year old neighbor. 

The police detective assigned to the homicide investigation, a boyhood friend of Gage who is not emotionally well-suited to the job, asks for his support in solving the case. And Gage isn't one to say "no" to such a request. Besides, it is still considered ‘being on vacation’ if the work involves someone else’s job, right? 

Soon historical subplots and shady real estate dealings become entangled in the homicide investigation, leading to disturbing revelations and more than a few comical interactions among a cast of eccentric characters who all earn their time in the spotlight. 

Detailed history of Canada's military involvement in the War of 1812 helps to drive the plot and plays into the mystery's satisfying resolution. Gage's suggested possibilities for successful urban renewal offer hope for a safer environment in this small town scarred by past tragedies. 

Excellent command of first and third person point of view keep the story flowing without disruption. The author's career experience in urban planning and his attention to detail lend authenticity to the story line and make The Concrete Vineyard an enjoyable and educational reading experience.

*****

Upcoming post - Wednesday June 16: “Novel Research” interview with Cam Lang. Get to know more about the author and his process of weaving fact and fiction into a satisfying tale.

*****

"THE CONCRETE VINEYARD" is available at: Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PJB3D6W


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Novel Research Interview with J.A. Schneider

Interviews with writers for the Novel Research project ("novel" meaning interesting, different, unusual,) focus on a variety of research topics, whether for a book, an essay, blog post, or the gathering of family genealogy records. In April, 2021, I posted 26 short articles about topics researched over the years for mystery novels, poetry, and genealogical records (which culminated in a historical novel.) Eager to learn of wider ranging research experiences, I have invited other writers to participate in the project by sharing information about their "novel" research topics.

*****

Gail: Today's guest, author J.A. Schneider, is a prolific writer with much research under her belt. I have asked Joyce to first share her bio, including one new or previously undisclosed detail about herself.

Joyce: Thanks so much for inviting me! I am honored to participate. I’m a former writer at

Newsweek who grew up with a passion for books and reading. I’ve written 14 books so far: the 6-book EMBRYO medical thriller series, the 4-book police/psychological thrillers featuring NYPD Detective Kerri Blasco, and the standalone thrillers Into the Dark, Girl Watching You, What You’ve Done, and the just-released Cry to Me.

What led me to writing for Newsweek was previous – and sometimes wild – experience studying in Paris at the Sorbonne, then being an exchange student in the Soviet Union where I promptly got arrested for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda - ha! Caught with friends laughing at their pea-green-colored drinking water; that was the offense; four of us arrested. Let go after a day, guess they decided we weren't worth an international incident. Then weeks later I landed in a Soviet hospital because I fell down a ravine during a hike in the Caucasus mountains near Sochi. It wasn't bad. Docs in Sochi were nice, but I think the Soviets were glad to see me leave.


Now things are calmer, if you call writing suspense thrillers calmer. When not writing I’m usually thinking about writing and dreaming up new stories, and can rarely be seen without my trusty laptop. I live with my family in Connecticut, love gardening, and am working on my WIP which will be a departure, still a romantic suspense crime thriller, but a surprise.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gail: Your early experiences have me wavering between cautious laughter and fright. Knowing that research practices evolve over the years, what is your go-to method now?    

Joyce: I use the Internet a LOT for research, definitely during the first draft. Saves time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gail: And what "novel" research topic have you chosen for today?

Joyce: A hurricane! I wrote CRY TO ME (getbook.at/CryToMe) by battery lamp in a hurricane, about scared people using battery lamps in a hurricane. The raging wind outside - wowza - affected the intensity of the story. Add a bloodied crime scene and a cold case to the howling storm, the fear of trees falling outside, and that beats any “research” I’ve ever done for a novel.

Photo by author

The hurricane was Isaias, which hit Florida in late August of 2020 and plowed its way up to our Connecticut Coast (whole swaths of woods knocked down; roofs plowed in; cars under water, highways washed out. It was something.)

What’s crazy is, I had planned this novel before I knew a hurricane was coming! It was a coincidence. It’s what informed my first draft, anyway. Subsequent drafts were aided by the months-long sound of chain saws fixing destruction all around our town.

That experience beat any research I’ve ever done. Whew, when I think of it!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can visit Joyce at her social media site: https://www.facebook.com/joyce.schneider.142?fref=ts 

And check out her books on her Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/J-A-Schneider/e/B008BOPMN2/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

*****

Isaias swept through Connecticut, causing crippling damage as it uprooted trees, severed power lines, and littered roads with water-soaked debris, leaving more than 700,000 residents without power.

What effects of a hurricane have you experienced?

* * * * *

Monday, June 7, 2021

Book Review: Cry To Me by J.A. Schneider

Welcome to Book Review Monday. According to an encouraging adage for writers, “Successful writing includes the side component of reading.” As testament to this adage, reading keeps me grounded, informed, aware, and alive. Novels entertain me. News reports and essays tie me to a teeming, ever-growing and changing society of ideas. Non-fiction stimulates my mind, allowing me to transform my own thoughts into written words. 

The list of books I’ve read and reviewed over the past year isn’t genre-specific, only slightly tilted toward suspenseful mysteries. But to my way of thinking, every story contains a mystery, with suspense of one sort or another to hold the reader’s interest. Mixed genres work well to satisfy the desires of multiple preferences. 

On the topic of mixed genres, if you are looking for an entertaining novel filled with suspense, thrills, and a touch of romance to read this week, look no further than: 

“CRY TO ME: An Intense Romantic Suspense Thriller” by J.A. Schneider

“Cry To Me” is one of Joyce’s best novels, which says a lot because her entire Embryo series kept me well-entertained as she pumped them out over the years.

In her latest stand-alone novel, "Cry To Me", the story’s main character and narrator Kim attends a celebration of her sister and brother-in-law’s renovated mansion. Loud music, business connections interested only in making money or getting revenge, and an exposed affair all lend suspicion when the host is found dead and the hostess clings to life after both are shot by an unknown assailant.  

A hurricane is brewing, moving closer each day as police attempt to clear the  investigation. They quickly assume murder and attempted suicide. But Kim  refuses to accept that her sister shot her husband and then tried to kill herself. As a crime fiction writer, Kim proceeds to use her detecting skills to dig up evidence proving her sister’s innocence. But as the storm builds, threatening imminent power outages and severed satellite service, the narrowing list of possible suspects has Kim, and the reader, wavering over who is the true killer. 

Simmering tension and character development held my attention throughout the plotline’s steady escalation. The local book club selection for May, “And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, is described by many as the best mystery ever written. For thrills and accuracy, I would say “Cry To Me is comparable.

*****

Upcoming post - Wednesday June 9: “Novel Research” interview with J.A. Schneider. Get to know more about the author whose novels are as addictive as Belgian chocolate truffles.

*****

"Cry To Me" is available at Amazon.com - the kindle edition on sale now for 99cents.   

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

NOVEL RESEARCH From Three Authors' Perspectives

Literature is described as the art of written work. Interviews for “Novel Research” are focused on topics that participants have researched before or while composing a written work. 

As for the novel part of the research, the description of the word novel as a noun is: a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism. 

But the description for the word novel as an adverb is so much more intriguing:



And synonyms for the adverb seem endless: new, original, unfamiliar, fresh, unorthodox,  unconventional, off-center, imaginative, creative, innovative, futuristic, trailblazing, rare, unique, singular, experimental, uncommon, untested, surprising, strange, exotic, . . . 

Researching a new novel, or other projects such as essays or family genealogy, takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, news articles, or physical travel. On Wednesdays in the coming weeks, writers will share their novel research experiences here on a range of eclectic topics.

The boundaries for topic choices

are mostly defined by

the imagination of the author.

(Under BLOG ARCHIVE in the right hand column, click on "2021" and then "April" for the list of novel research topics I blogged about during the April AtoZ Challenge2021).

Below are short excerpts of interviews from three popular authors who previously shared information about research specific to their published works. (Might they return for a Novel Research interview to share interesting details about one of their favorite research topics?!)


Elizabeth Wilder

Granite Hearts

Amazon.com: Elizabeth Egerton Wilder: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Synopsis: One family, one journey, many paths, all guided by the strength and wisdom of one amazing woman. 

Question: For your second novel, Granite Hearts, where did your research take you? 

E.E. WILDER: Obviously, we made trips to Fort Knox in Prospect, Maine across the Penobscot River from Bucksport to walk the grounds and tunnels. We drove around on one trip and found the spots to place the Ryan and Hodge homes and I took photographs of the terrain, river and roads. We visited museums, read archived newspapers, and chose names from mid-1800’s genealogies. The only books I read were about Joshua Chamberlain and Civil War battles. I have never thought of taking research from movies – I like to discover my own information. In addition I studied antique maps and searched the areas via satellite using MapQuest. I enjoy digging deeper and deeper into bits and pieces on internet search engines. I love finding the occasional surprise that works perfectly to drive the story. 

***** 

Cheryl Lynn Martin

Menehunes Missing

Amazon.com: Menehunes Missing (Hawaiian Island Detective Club) (9781938388248): Martin, Cheryl: Books

Synopsis: It's just a game, right? Wrong! The Menehune Hunt turns into eerie intrigue filled with danger as The Hawaiian Island Detective Club tackles their second genuine mystery.

Question: What did you most enjoy about the research process of your novel, Menehunes Missing 

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: My research involves mostly Hawaiian things—even though I knew about The Menehune, I still did some research to learn more. I also did research on foods, a few Hawaii locations, and casts (Leilani gets her cast removed in this book.) I always do a lot of observing of some very special people in my life to put together some supporting characters—my favorite part of research and developing characters! 

And then there was my trip to Maui to do some research on some of the areas on the island—now that’s fun research!! 

***** 

Sandra Nikolai

False Impressions

Amazon.com: Sandra Nikolai: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Synopsis: Montreal ghostwriter Megan Scott falls under police suspicion when her husband and a female companion are found murdered.

Question: Research is one of the most important aspects of a writer's work. No matter how knowledgeable the writer is, some research is inevitable. Seasoned authors such as Stephen King may delegate this task. Without the luxury of delegating, did you do your own research for scenes involving the Montreal nightlife, specifically for the strip club Café Cleopatra?

SANDRA NIKOLAI: I grew up in Montreal and am familiar with the nightlife there. That’s not to say I frequented the strip clubs or stood on street corners in the red light district. Heavens, I’m a wife and mother—I have a reputation to maintain! 😊 Kidding aside, I try to ensure that my research information is as accurate as possible. I’ve taken a few liberties with names and places, but the police investigation and legalities—Canadian style—were verified through reliable sources.

 *****