I hate doing research. I hated it in college. I hated it during the twenty-two years that I was a practicing psychologist. And I figured that I’d hate it as a fiction writer. Which is one of the many reasons why when I wrote my first book, Murder of a Small-Town Honey, I decided the amateur sleuth would be a school psychologist, live in a small town, and share a lot of my tastes in food and clothing.
My brilliant plan worked well for the first five books. I knew a lot about town festivals, elderly relatives, high school mean girls, and in-home product demonstration parties. Then for the fifth book, the plot revolved around a garage band and I had to hang out with the guys in my cousin’s group. And, although their music made my ears bleed, it was fun to hear their stories and experience an environment totally foreign to my usual one.
Suddenly, research didn’t seem too bad. For the next several books, I immersed myself in the world of cooking contests, expensive spas, over-the-top weddings, bookstore ownership, and country music stars. I was shocked at how cool exploring a topic could be when it didn’t involve footnotes, annoying professors, or attorneys determined to prove your test results were flawed.
And researching my sleuth’s wedding for Murder of a Stacked Librarian was a real hoot. It was like planning my dream wedding without having to worry about how I was going to pay for it. Everything from the gown to the flowers to the vows needed to be exactly right and I visited bridal salons, blogs, and florists to make sure I selected the best for my character.
But, I have to admit, researching my newest book, Murder of a Needled Knitter, was the most exciting of all. It takes place during my sleuth’s honeymoon on a cruise ship; so of course, I had to take a cruise. Not only take a cruise, but also arrange for a tour of the inner workings of the ship. I got to see below deck, speak with security, and interview the officers and crew. It was totally awesome!
Which means that I can no longer claim to hate research. Have you changed your mind about an activity that you thought you disliked, but after an eye-opening experience ended up enjoying?
--New York Times Bestselling author, Denise Swanson, writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store series. You can find out more about her at www.DeniseSwanson.com, www.facebook.com/#!/DeniseSwansonAuthor, and DeniseSwansonAU on Twitter.