Marja McGraw, author of the wonderful Bogey series and other mysteries, is my guest today.
I’d like to say that I’m one of those people who knows things. Haven’t you ever met someone who seems to know everything? Well, I’m not one of those people. I know a few facts about many subjects. Consequently, I have to research for my books.
I wrote Old Murders Never Die, which is about a young female P.I. and her partner being stranded in a ghost town, and I had to research things about the Old West. Not cowboys or the fun stuff, but how to use a wood-burning cook stove. What might you find in a hundred and twenty year old house if it was abandoned and no one had entered it until you came along? How did people speak – especially if it was someone who wasn’t well-educated? I’d start to write a scene and suddenly have to stop to research some small piece of the story.
When I started writing the Bogey Man series, which is about a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart, I had to start researching vintage clothing, 1940s slang and, not that it broke my heart, but I had to sit down and watch old Bogart movies to study some of his mannerisms and speech habits.
Both of my series take place today; however, they include things from the past. I had no idea what I was getting into until I’d start to write a scene and realize I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Research is essential to writing a good story whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Ya can’t just make things up and hope no one notices. If you don’t get your facts right, I can almost guarantee someone will call you on it.
One thing I’ve learned through this is that I enjoy research. Who knew? In fact, sometimes I have to force myself to put aside the research and get back to the book. My, how things have changed since I was a kid and had to research projects for school.
Another eye-opener was when I realized that not everything you read on the Internet is factual. Many times I have to check out multiple resources, including the library. It’s time-consuming, but well worth the effort.
I know several retired police officers and they’re probably sick of me asking questions about police procedure. There may be a few police departments who’ve blocked my calls, too. (Just joking. I’m sure they love to hear from me.) When I need information, I’m not the least bit shy about asking for it.
I’ve learned that when I read books by other authors, I can usually tell if they’ve done their homework before writing the story. I appreciate the effort they’ve put into it, because I know how much blood, sweat and tears were involved. What else would a mystery writer put into their research? Laughter? Giggles?
So next time you read a good book, remind yourself that a lot more went into writing the story than simply imagination.
Website: http://www.marjamcgraw.com/Book Trailer for Bogey’s Ace in the Hole: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0mizm1RZzg