Welcome back to Lorna Collins who discusses the importance of research, and how she goes about it.
*Name: Lorna Collins
Does a writer always have to do research?
Yes. Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or historical or science fiction, it is absolutely necessary to do your homework.
How do you define research?
Research may involve fact checking, authentication, or delving into a time period. If you write about real locations, you must know everything about them. Even if you create a fictitious location, as we did with Aspen Grove, Colorado for our romance anthologies, we had to know what the area around the mountains of Colorado looked like. Our little town was also a silver mining town, so we had to research what those were like.
Yes, but if you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi and creating your own world, no research should be necessary, right?
No. Even if you create your own world, all physical attributes must be explained rationally and consistently. Know what others in the field have written, and ‘piggy-back’ onto their ideas. My husband, Larry, writes sci-fi, and it is all based on current scientific research and innovation.
What are you working on at present/Just finished?
We are currently writing the sequel to The Memory Keeper to be called Becoming the Jewel. We left the first book at the end of the 1800s when Mission San Juan Capistrano was in ruins. In this next book, we’ll tell the story of how it became the “Jewel of the Missions.”
We are also writing the third in our mystery series, Murder with Honor.
I am working on another ghost story called, Sophia’s Garden. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
*Tell us about your process for research.
In the Digital Age, there is no excuse for failing to do adequate research. Some of the resources I use include:
- Online Research. Wikipedia is a good place to start, but I don’t finish there. I take each element of the story and search on it until I have a complete grasp of the subject matter. Google maps and Google itself are great places to start.
- Go to the Source. When we were in Colorado in 2012, I visited both Idaho Springs and Georgetown, the two cities we used as the inspiration for Aspen Grove. We went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought locally written books about the history of the towns. We learned a great deal of new material we subsequently used in our books. In addition, we visited the gold mine in Idaho Springs. We asked how the silver mining process would have differed from the one for gold. We were told they were essentially the same. By the time we left, we had a much better feeling for our town and its roots.
We also write our contemporary cozy mysteries in Hawaii. Before we start a new one, we take a trip. (I know it’s rough, but we have to do it. On one trip, we discovered a restaurant we described in our book had moved. We were able to change the location before the book went to press.
- Ask an Expert. I learned from a dear friend and fellow mystery writer that everyone will talk to you if you say, “I’m a writer, and I’m trying to get the facts right.” If you have a question about a police procedure, ask your local police, If you have a medical question, ask a doctor.
When we wrote our historical, we enlisted the local Indian storyteller, the official town historian, the historical society, and a number of long-time residents. They provided extremely valuable details we couldn’t have found otherwise.
- Librarians are still great resources for research. They are there to help you, and they generally enjoy the research. Ask for help.
- Your Friends. Let them know what you are writing about and what you are trying to find out. I have been amazed at how simple mention to friends has resulted in tremendous resources I never would have found on my own.
What aspects do you find most enjoyable?
I’ve always loved learning, so the research process is an opportunity to learn new things. We spent two-and-a-half years researching The Memory Keeper. Because the history of San Juan Capistrano is so well-known and venerated locally, we had to be certain we only included verified incidents. In a number of cases, we obtained several sources before including a fact. The book is now sold in the store at Mission San Juan Capistrano and at a gallery in the Los Rios historical district. The local families and experts have all embraced the book.
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.
For years, I never told anyone I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year award as a senior in high school. I was an academic, after all. I won several college scholarships. The award seemed trivial at the time. However, I more recent years, I have become proud of the achievement. I still have the pin mounted in a shadowbox, along with other memorabilia. Whenever I see it, it makes me smile.
*Tell us a bit about yourself:
My husband, Larry K. Collins, and I write both together and alone. After fifty years of marriage, we figured out how to do it.
We were both members of the team that helped to build theUniversal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. Our memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and chosen one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books.
We have also co-written two cozy mysteries set in Hawaii: Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, the latter a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for mystery. We are currently working on more in the series. The Memory Keeper, is our historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.
I co-authored six sweet romance anthologies set in the fictional town of Aspen Grove, CO: Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, and Directions of Love, 2011 EPIC eBook Award winner.
My fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, launched Oak Tree Press’s Mystic Oaks imprint. It combines elements of fantasy, romance, and mystery. It’s a beach read with a dog, and a ghost.
In addition, I am a professional editor.
Where can we learn more about you?
You can find out more about me at our website: http://www.lornalarry.com
Follow my blog at: http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com/
Social Media links:
LinkedIn: Lorna Collins http://tinyurl.com/nunt9no