Those of us who love to write—and read—Historical Romance understand the importance of research. In fact a number of my fellow authors have told me it’s the need for painstaking research that discourages them from attempting to write an historical novel. But as a reader, I aunderstand the importance of authors creating an authentic and convincing world to visit. And authenticity requires details. But how much detail is too much? A woman posessed, Laura Strickland says it’s in the details.
We’ve probably all read books that personify each extreme—either so poorly endowed with historical detail they fail to hold our interest, or so filled with excruciating minutia it feels more like reading a history text book than a novel. I feel the first job of any fiction book is to entertain. But the author does owe readers who devote untold hours to his or her story a certain level of verisimilitude.
I was fortunate in that when I wrote my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, set in Medieval Nottinghamshire, England, I had a deep familiarity with the period. For years, I’d soaked up whatever information I could find about Robin Hood, just out of pure love for the legend. When I began the series, I merely distilled what I already knew, honed it and passed it through the sieve of my words. Of course, more research into certain areas was required, such as discovering names of various Sheriffs of Nottingham. But it came relatively effortlessly.
On the other hand, when I decided to attempt a Steampunk Romance and moreover to set it not in Victorian London, Boston or New York but in my native city of Buffalo, New York, I completely underestimated the amount of research that would be involved. After all, I was born in Buffalo, grew up there and went to schools built early in the twentieth century. How hard could it be?
Turns out Buffalo of the 1880s differed in many ways from that of the 1980s. And I knew that when other natives of my great city read my Steampunk series, they’d fall upon any mistakes the way the big, black Buffalo crows fall on spillage, come garbage day. I plunged into research like a woman possessed, starting with a massive, hand-drawn 1880s map with which I fell in love…just like I fell in love with old Buffalo, all over again.
Oh, what fun it is creating a world! And even more fun creating one with its roots down in bedrock, one that you know from the ground up, complete with secrets and shadows and beauties almost too wonderful to contemplate. The only trouble is, once you’ve created this world you won’t want to leave. That’s why my Buffalo Steampunk series is already four releases strong, with another story to come next year. And I have no plans to leave!
What do you think? Can a writer get carried away with research? How much detail is too much?
When it comes to research, immerse yourself. Learn about your subject for the sheer love of it, and make the knowledge a part of you. That way when you start writing, detail will flow naturally out of the minds of your characters, and won’t sound like the words of a lesson.
Work local festivals that fit into your genre: Scottish or Celtic festivals for Historical Romance, cooking events if that’s what you write. I’ve attended our local Steampunk Festival for the past three years promoting my series and it’s proved both successful and fun.
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, award-winning author Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.
Author Web site: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317
Author Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Reynold Michaels might not be the smartest man in the city, but he knows a beautiful woman when he sees one. The lovely creature he watches disembark from the steam tram every morning simply cannot be a prostitute…or an automaton. Yet at the high-priced bordello where she works he discovers she’s not only a hybrid mechanical, she’s funny, vulnerable, and quite possibly the missing piece of his heart.
Lily Landry understands that as an automaton she isn’t entitled to make her own choices. She must do as instructed or face the ultimate horror of being shut down. But when she forms a bond with Reynold, she quickly learns what it means to desire a life of her own.
In a city conflicted over automaton rights, can they hope for a future together?
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