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?