Jessie: Enjoying bouquets of daffodils scattered throughout the house!
I think every writer has parts of the job that really get the wheels turning on new projects. For some, it seems to be visiting inspiring locations. For others, it is overhearing snippets of interesting conversations. And for writers like me, it is a flash of curiosity on a topic that leads to research that leads to more curiosity that finally leads to the plot for a book.
I simply adore research. There is something so delightful to me in indulging my interest and meandering down whatever rabbit holes may appear along the way. I have written every one of my books this way. There is something I hear on a podcast, a bit pops out of a non-fiction book that I read, a conversation with a friend raises a topic and I tuck it away for a bit of a peek round later. Then, the fun really starts.
Since I prefer to write historical novels, I am often interested in where a deep dive into the British Newspaper Archive, The Maine Historical Society, or The Imperial War Museum online may take me. For my upcoming novel, Death in a Blackout, I spent two full work weeks reading every edition of The Hull Daily Mail, from May-July, 1940. I felt like a local, even though I was traveling through both space and time, as I became familiar with the names of the local cinemas, what was considered a bargain at department stores in the city, and recognized the names of Hull dignitaries making the paper as they presided over meetings and attending business openings.
At the Imperial War Museum, there were photographs and works of art pertaining to not only WWII but also to many other conflicts. Even though I arrived there with the intention of investigating armaments and the Merchant Navy I found myself looking into the ways artists were used in the war effort both at home and at the fronts. This led to researching art classes in Hull which took me straight to making the art college in that city an important part of Death in a Blackout. Without research, I never would have ended up heading in that direction with the story. I shudder to think
I must confess that all the research tends to stir up more ideas than I could possibly hope to put to use in one lifetime. I add links to my Trello boards, I fill paper notebooks and I am starting to explore the practice of Building a Second Brain, but the truth is I am reconciled to the notion that my problems are ones of abundance rather than lack, for which I am most grateful!
Readers, do you like to learn new things or to have your curiosity aroused by novels? Writers, where is your own starting line? How do you get inspired to start your own work?