What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
While I write a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal, I also seem to set up camp in the historical department. For that reason, I love research. By The Book didn’t require a lot of the kind of research I’m used to. I watched hours of country line dancing videos the chapter before they all go dancing, which came in handy a week later. My husband and I were at a party and they played Copperhead Road. I had never done the dance before, but I got up and was able to join in all because of my research that I did for this novella. In other books – particularly my historical series – I do extensive research. One time, I spent days trying to look up what a particular bath house in Pompeii looked like for a three or four paragraph scene in my shifter series, The Decimus Trilogy. I watched countless documentaries, read articles, looked through Google Earth, but I couldn’t find this one bathhouse. Then, I went to YouTube and a tourist had shot a five-minute video with their phone of the exact bathhouse I was looking for. I was overjoyed, but furious at the same time because I had held up work on the story until I had this one detail right. Part of my obsessive personality is that I want to make things just perfect, because I fear some history buff will come in and blast me for an inaccuracy.
The series I’m working on right now, The Legacy Series, stretches across time from 1555 England to Chicago 1920s. Each novella skips around countries too. I’ve learned so much through writing that series, probably more than any one person should know. I learned how to cuss someone out in Irish Gaelic, how to present myself in Navajo (in correct clan order), and the history of Australia down to how many people were on the prison ships as they were coming over to colonize New South Wales. I know some of these little details may never make it into the story, but knowing them as a writer helps me to flesh out my characters and know what is and what isn’t possible for the story.