Research – love it or hate it, it’s vital for any well-written story. If, like my critique partner Suzanne Johnson, you write urban fantasy and paranormal romance, you might find your bookshelf filled with fun titles like The Complete Guide to the Undead. I’m jealous; my shelves are filled with war diaries.
As a contemporary romance writer, I get to research by asking real people about what their lives and jobs are like. Since I’m working on a series about women who work for a humanitarian organization, and I work for such an organization myself, I’m surrounded by friendly experts.
But there are times when I think of ideas for historicals and, if I’m honest, the thought of spending months upon months sifting through old newspaper articles and history books feels a little overwhelming. Writing a novel set in a completely different world would be so much easier if we had time machines and could talk to the people who actually lived there.
So, this week my gift to you is one day in a time machine.
As writers, our imaginations are the best time machines we could ever have. And reality may never live up to what we can create ourselves. But if you could spend one day in another place and time, where would it be and why? It doesn’t have to be relevant to any book you’re working on. Is there one historical event you’d love to take part in? One future event you want to see? Perhaps you’d like to travel to a different dimension – the Beyond, or Heaven – with the guarantee that you’ll be able to come back.
I’d spend a day visiting all my ancestors who got fed up with being piss-poor laborers and starving peasants in Europe. I’d want to see what finally made them decide spending weeks on a rickety ship and starting over in an unknown land was a better option than sticking around. And I’d like to tell them that their gamble paid off, and their families’ lives improved with every generation. So much so, in fact, that I got to go to college and study English because I liked reading, not because it was practical or I needed it to survive.
How about you?