Wicked Wednesday: How much research do you do?

Wickeds, today we’re helping celebrate the release of Taken Too Soon, the 6th Quaker Midwife mystery by Edith. Historical mysteries are very rooted in research, so this is a great question for Edith and Jessie. I look forward to hearing what the rest of the Wickeds have to say. How much research do you do for your book? Does it depend on the genre? Are you a research junkie?

Jessie: Super congratulations, Edith! I know these books are close to your heart! Julie, I am a total research junkie! I spend a ton of time just luxuriating in sources! As a matter of fact, I recently indulged my fancy by purchasing a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive! It has already provided hours and hours of fun for me! I think historical novels are definitely research heavy ventures but I would think that any book that the writer needs to rely on information and experiences outside her own requires that piece of the process.

Barb: Congratulations, Edith, on the release of Taken Too Soon. I doubt I do as much research as our two historical mystery authors. My book Sealed Off has a mystery in the past as well as one in the present and even writing that much history freaked me out. But I do research stuff I don’t know about: Oyster farming, mega-yachts, black diamonds, blueberry harvesting, clamming, shoreline property rights in Maine. It’s fun and interesting for me, and I hope it’s interesting for readers.

Sherry: Happy release day, Edith! I have been doing so much research on boats for A Time to Swill! I have sailboats, cigarette boats, center-console boats, and speed boats in this book. I know next to nothing about boats so I’ve been reading about helms, rudders, VHF radios, and on and on. It’s been fun and a bit overwhelming to read about them.

Liz: Congrats, Edith! I’ve done some really fun research in the name of my books – I’ve watched cremations, visited a python (yuck), toured a dairy farm, and heard fascinating stories from ghost hunters. It’s so much fun and you can definitely get lost in it!

Julie: Congratulations, Edith! I do some research, but just enough to get my creative juices flowing. I find it really helpful if I have an idea, but need to figure out how to turn it into a story. A recent example is the plotting work I’d doing for the 5th Garden Squad series. I started with the idea of the Garden Squad spring cleaning the graves in the cemetery, and then I started doing research on cemetery plots and who sells them. After a couple of hours of research I had an idea for the story, the misdeeds of the victim and a healthy list of suspects.

Edith: Thank you so much, dear Wickeds! Jessie’s right, this series is close to my heart. I do some research up front, a little as I go along, and a lot more when I’m resolving all the CHECK THIS notes I leave to myself as I write the first draft. I loved digging into the history of the greater Falmouth area for this book, visiting historical societies and historic homes, and soaking up the flavor. When it comes to research, bring it on!

Writer friends, how much research do you do? Readers, do you ever go down the rabbit hole of research? What sends you there?

16 Thoughts

  1. Oh, I definitely can slide way down into the rabbit hole of research and just for the fun of it. I learned how much I enjoyed it when I did a lot of research papers in college. Now with the internet, I can get lost for hours following one lead after another and then getting distracted by something else interesting and following it. I just love to learn for the sake of learning. Reading historical mysteries or any mystery that required research is a shortcut for me. 🙂

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  2. Congratulations again, Edith! I have to do research for both series. The Homefront Mysteries always involve research into what was happening in WWII when the story takes place, plus any Buffalo history or other aspects that play into the plot. Since I’m not a cop or a lawyer, The Laurel Highlands Mysteries always involved finding out how those professions would do things, as well as any other things necessary. For the current WIP I’ve done research into how a defense attorney would handle rebutting accounting evidence offered by the prosecution and now I’m researching the dark web.

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  3. I often time find and interest to follow after reading historical fiction. The Quaker mysteries, BeforeWe were Yours by Lisa Wingate, the stories about The Breakers and other New England tales. Victoria Thompson books.

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  4. I love research. My former career was a paralegal, research was my middle name – historic probate cases can be a treasure trove of ideas. Old deeds too. The trick is to not go down the rabbit hole – mine is comfortably furnished – and to never let your research show as instruction.

    One of the few things that will cause me to stop reading a book is multiple inaccuracies when a little research would smooth the story.

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    1. I hear ya, Kait. A few years ago when I was trying to trace our house history back to when it was built (1889 or so), I had to do so much detective work, and I still lost the trail in the early 1900s. So many complications!

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  5. Congratulations Edith on the release of “Taken Too Soon”! Knowing your books, I know it’s a fabulous one and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.

    Love when author’s do the research in order to make a book authentic to the time, place or event. It makes the book all the more enjoyable to read. Plus as I always say – we are never too old to learn. What a great way to do so by reading an awesome, well-written book!

    As for myself, I’m a constant fact finder. I’m always looking to find answers to problems or who something came about. I’ve done a lot of research on our family tree, but also researched things like items I was selling (because the more information you have the better the price on antiques), points in time of my Dad’s military history or even finding exciting but maybe little known places to visit. At present, I research information on critters every day. I want to find out both the normal information as well as little tidbits not found everywhere about different species. Hubby and I each post a photo a day and the information adds to the photos – at least I think they do. Most times the photos are critters, but on occasion they are of landscape or places in history. I do sometimes get lost in research. You find one bit of information which leads to another to another.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  6. I do fall down the research rabbit hole every so often, usually when I think of a random question and start to look for answers, which leads me to more and more and…. Of course, I’m usually trying to procrastinate when I do that.

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  7. Research is probably my favorite part. Yes, the rabbit hole is long and steep. Easy to go into tangents. Great for knowledge but it makes weeding out info difficult. Hard to save for a future time.

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