When I first realized we’d be talking about research, the first thing I thought was, “I don’t do internet research! How will I speak intelligently about that?” Okay yes, that’s a hint of panic you’re reading in my words.
My favorite research is to watch and listen to people. I was raised in a military family and I’ve traveled a lot. And, I’m a Nurse. So, when I tell a story, I write about the things I know. Usually, it’s a tribal story about being part of the human family. The women’s fiction novel I just finished is about a doctor who’s faced with a medical condition that could take away the career she loves. At the same time her family is falling apart around her. The proposal for Silhouette is about a Marine who’s on a collision course with a discharge she doesn’t want. The last thing she sees herself as is a civilian. It’s set in the high desert country of Oregon (where I regularly visit). The garden book is about grief and loss and well, set in my garden.
Research, yes I’m getting to that. I love books. New ones, and especially old ones. Specifically, books about pre-recorded history. If I’d been a cave dweller, I would be the one drawing my tribe’s story on the walls. So, when I need to do research, the first thing I do, is get books, many of them, from the library and/or the book store, doesn’t matter, except I love to keep my research books too. I put sticky notes on the pages that interest me. I horde them. I have many books about London, believe me (acquired for my first women’s fiction which is set in London), laying around, tempting me to open them and disappear into the magic of that city. Been there, so I still have a visceral memory that calls to me.
More research? Okay, then I talk to the Marines in my family, the medical providers I work with, I take photographs in my garden. Sometimes, I talk to my soul. And, on very rare occasions when I have no other recourse, I get on the net to find the specific information I want, like the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. To be honest – I’d rather be out in my garden taking pictures.