Very soon, you’ll see an announcement that has been months and months in the making. I’m starting a new series with a new publisher and a new editor. This is like taking a different job . . . in a new city . . . with a company you’ve never worked for.
It’s not that my doings are such a huge deal. It’s just that in this era of publishing, when money is tight for new projects, and most writers have a publishing record that has a few flaws – including me – any assurance that you’re going to be working for the next three years is very welcome. But also a little scary.
I’m going to be writing alternative history, with a few supernatural elements. The research is a bear. You have to know what DID happen to decide what DIDN’T happen. And there are so many branches leading off from your initial premise that this is a different version of a familiar world. What would the banking situation be? How would boundaries be enforced? How would a once-united country, now broken into pieces, be policed? The answers to those questions lead off into yet more questions, until the project seems impossible.
Maybe I should have thought twice before tackling this project, huh? Especially since it includes two hot topics: guns and cars. Gun people and car people are famous for knowing the minutiae of their enthusiasms, and they will call your bluff with glee if you make a mistake.
I go through this process with some regularity: If gun people are so vigilant, why not just invent a gun? (Rex Stout did, and he invented a car, too.) But I’d almost certainly have to know how it was loaded and how it was fired. Then why not use a gun actually in production? Because it was manufactured in a place that no longer exists, in my new world. Why not just blur over all the details? Because real gun people will want to know. How many real gun people read my books? Maybe not many, but I want them to be happy.
How much research is enough? How much is too much? Have you ever stopped a book cold because you simply didn’t find the research credible?