Wicked Wednesday: Fun Discoveries

Wickeds, we’ve all had those moments while researching where we think “that is so cool,” right? What’s the favorite research tidbit that you’ve included in one of your books?

Jessie: I am not sure I could choose just one tidbit since there have been so many! I can say that my favorite research venture so far has been my excursion to Lily Dale, NY to the Spiritualists enclave there. I spent several days there along with a dear friend and conducted research for my Change of Fortune mysteries. It was an entirely delightful experience and one that I believe helped create the atmosphere of the hotel, and its inhabitants, in the series.

Sherry: Jessie, that trip sounds fascinating. I hope some day you have time to write another book in that series because I loved it. I attended the Citizens Police Academy for my county. In one of the sessions a woman told us about bait cars. I was hooked and had to include a bait car in All Murders Final!

Edith: Bait cars! Shoot – I read that book but can’t remember what they are, Sherry. I picked up a couple of fun factoids when I was researching Taken Too Soon. West Falmouth on Cape Cod in 1889 had an entire industry – owned by a woman with all women workers – tying strings to tags that ended up being price tags. They also had an early kind of dune buggy, a wagon with extra-wide axles and wheels to accommodate sandy roads. I had to include both.

Barb: I had a lot of fun researching the next Maine Clambake Mystery, Shucked Apart, which is about oyster farming. One thing that stuck with me was from an article about aquaculture. It was talking about how, as our fishing industry has disappeared in New England, more fishermen and lobstermen have tried their hands at aquaculture. But it’s a hard adjustment, “like a hunter/gatherer taking up agriculture.” That struck me as such a great comparison and fundamentally true. Fishing and lobstering are hunting, finding and capturing a natural resource. Aquaculture requires a different kind of patience, the willingness to plant a crop, nurture it and wait years in many cases to take it to market. For some reason, all I could see in my mind’s eye was dancing lobstermen and oyster farmers, arguing over who had rights to the bottom of the river, and singing their own lyrics to “The Farmers and the Cowhands Should be Friends,” from Oklahoma!

Liz: Barb, you always find the most interesting things in your travels with this series! For me, I spent a lot of time in and around funeral homes with a dear friend who is a funeral director. I got to observe the inner workings of the whole industry and learned so many interesting things – like you can’t cremate someone with a pacemaker because it would explode, so you had to remove it first. I even got to watch the removal of said pacemaker. I eventually want to write a series about a funeral home because it’s just such a fascinating business.

Barb: Liz–You should totally write that series!

Julie: Liz, I’m coming to you for book #5 of the Garden Squad series. Barb, you do such amazing research on your books. I never thought I’d find the sex lives of lobsters interesting, but you made if fascinating. My favorite bit? I’ve mentioned it before, but for me it was visiting a working clock tower. It was fascinating, and not at all what I expected. It changed Chime and Punishment completely. I love doing hands on research.

Readers, what’s been your favorite discovery while reading one of our books?

22 Thoughts

  1. I can’t pick just one. You all do a great job. Edith, I love your historical research – it’s just my thing. Enough details to make things come alive, but not so much I feel like I’m reading a history book.

    My favorite research so far has been learning about the Bell Airplane facility. I so wanted to visit there for a book event this past spring…but we can all imagine what happened to that.

  2. I’m with Liz, in that it is impossible to pick just one. I recently finished Barb’s Boiled Over and found the details on commercial blueberry picking fascinating and the fact that the farms are on native land. As my reading of the book coincided with harvest time in Maine, I had a few harsh words for COVID-19 for restricting my travel to see an operation in action and pick up some fresh berries!

    My most fun research has weaving the story of the Flagler railroad into the Hayden Kent series. The construction of that railroad, and it’s consequences for the Keys is breathtaking. Visiting Pigeon Key for a behind the scenes look helped me bring it all to life.

  3. That would be an awesome series, Liz! Sherry’s series taught me a bit about the life of military families. And I always enjoy picking up historical tidbits from Jessie and Edith.

  4. I have done research on Maine as it is one state that I have not visited and would like to visit. I just finished reading A Maine Hamlet by Lura Beam which is based on her childhood memories and stories heard from adults about “a place of 227 people, over ten years from 1894-1904.” In the early years folks stayed in the hamlet and children married and had children, but then children started leaving the hamlet. Parents would welcome them back in summers and visit them in the cities in the winter. Eventually, many more were migrating Westward than were staying in the hamlet. The whole idea is so similar to how my own family started off in the country on farms in the Southwest and the children all left and only two still live in the farming area. Once transportation options were available it was hard to “keep them down on the farm” as the old saying goes.

  5. I think my favorite bit was the ice industry and how that all worked. I never would have even thought about it, so that was fascinating to me.

  6. Like others, I couldn’t begin to pick just one. What I love about all the Wicked’s books is the things I learn from them beyond being greatly entertained. I always feel as if I just found the most interesting school in the world.

  7. I love all the interesting tidbits you authors bring to life in your books 📚 ! Sometimes when reading them I have to go do more research on something you have written just because you made me curious to learn more. I don’t think I could be an author because I get too sidetracked in the research! Lol!

  8. Wow, you have all done such fascinating research. People who disparage cozies and romances don’t realize how much interesting information and facts we would never learn otherwise go into them.

  9. I’ve used “research” as an excuse to do all kinds of tours that actually wound up AS research. Jessie, Eileen Rendahl wrote a series set in a funeral parlor for Crooked Lane (2 books, I believe) under the name Lillian Bell. (I think that was her pen name.) And Barb, oysters figure into the plot of my 7th Cajun Country Mystery!

  10. Wonderful post, ladies! Like your other happy followers, I can’t pick just one. The fascinating details in all of your series are what keeps me coming back – seeing what your well-developed protagonists discover along the way to solving the crimes, makes for engrossing reading.

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