“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” – Wernher van Braun
That quote above surely does reflect a large part of an author’s day. Every writer worth their salt has to do research. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding a route that leads into a city, other times it’s checking how long it takes to get from point A to point B in a car or on a plane.
For hockey romance authors we spend an ungodly amount of time poking around in the NHL by-laws. There have been days when I’m slogging through section 17 trying to figure out fines, suspensions, and expulsions. Talk about exciting. Not. It’s kind of dry work at times but to be as precise as possible is necessary work. Sports fans know their sport and you can’t just pretend to know your game. They will nab you every time.
Another genre that requires a great deal of fact checking is historical romances. I’d not written many before now, but since starting work on ‘The Ballad of Crow and Sparrow’ I’ve come to appreciate the hard work of the authors who primarily work in this genre.
Crow and Sparrow is an MM western set in the American west circa 1885. I’ve spent hours researching not only the clothing of the time but aspects of the book I’d not even thought about until I was knee deep in the story of an unwilling outlaw and the rich young man who wins his heart. My search history has included parts and layouts of steam locomotives, how to flesh a pelt, what was common dinnerware in the 1880’s, and when was the first patent on a repeating rifle issued. I think some days I’ve spent more time researching than I did writing.
Thankfully I have a hubby who not only used to trap in his younger days, he still hunts with a bow and a muzzleloader as well as more modern firearms. His insight into guns and the proper ways to process wild game has been invaluable. I feel the small facts that we authors add to our books help to make the reading experience that much richer for our readers. So while digging up those facts might be a bit tedious at times, it’s all well worth it!