Book research can be fun. Resources are everywhere: Internet, books, magazines, and people. Sometimes you can gather enough information about a place/profession by reading articles. I find it’s invaluable to get a personal account—either by personal experience or talking to someone who intimately knows what you’re trying to authenticate on those manuscript pages.
Today’s blog lists the strangest questions I’ve asked people in the name of book research. Surprisingly, complete strangers were willing to talk with me, often giving up to an hour of their time.
This doesn’t work for all authors. Nora Roberts admits she would rather read 20 books than meet with a stranger to ask questions. Yet Jodi Picoult insisted on personal experience to research her books. She trekked through the Alaskan tundra (The Tenth Circle), lived with an Amish family (Plain Truth), and spent the night in jail (The Pact).
I encourage writers to get over their shyness and try it. It gives us an opportunity to learn, see the world differently, and those gems can’t help but find their way onto the page.
- Has anyone died in this room?
- Can you show me the cremation room?
- How is a body cremated?
- Where did embalming begin?
- Has anyone stolen a casket?
- How much blood is on you by the end of the day?
- (to a friend) Can I come to your house and you point your gun at me?
- (to a friend) Can you press it (unloaded, please!) against my neck so I can feel the cold steel?
- How many flavors of pipe tobacco are there? Can I take a whiff of each?
- What did the lost baby zebra do when he saw your black and white striped van in the Serengeti?
There are many more, I’m sure, but these are the more recent. Have a good Friday, everyone!