I’m not great at research – I could never be a historical writer. But you’d be surprised how much research goes into even a contemporary book. I write about the West, and I’ve been to a lot of the places I write about (most on a motorcycle), but I’m writing my second ‘road trip’ book in a row, and there’s no way I could have been to all these small towns and back roads…or if I have, I don’t remember them!
So that means lots of maps, measuring miles between places, and TONS of internet searching!
But maps only take you so far (no pun intended). To write a location convincingly, you also need to know the ‘lay of the land’ – the terrain, the demographics, and the ‘feel’ of the place. I find that realtor web pages and homes for sale in the area give you a good cross section of that.
Then there’s the really good stuff! I get to look up everything from clothes to tractors to cool motorcycles, and put them into books! I’m telling you, this writing gig can be FUN!
I also get to make up places. For example, in my last romance series, Chestnut Creek, I made up the small town of Unforgiven, New Mexico. It’s small, with a weedy town square with a paint-flaking gazebo in the middle. A lot of the buildings surrounding it have butcher papered over windows. The hub is the diner, housed in an old railroad depot. That was so fun to write, and had me searching for old depot photos and diner interiors. Oh, and more heros!
I’m telling you, there are a lot worse careers than writing fiction!
So tell me, have you ever thought of writing a book? If so, what genre would it be? Do you have a story in mind? If so, tell us a bit about it!