Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Black Hole of Researching a Novel by Jenny Gardiner

We were talking about research on another blog this week so I thought I'd talk a little bit about things I've had to learn while writing my books.
Yeesh! Research! Nearly as big a time-suck as Facebook is...but at least with research, I'm learning something. Maybe it'll help me get on Jeopardy some day.
If I want to distract myself and not do the writing I need to do, all I need to do is knock on the door of my good friend Mr. Google under the guise of researching for my book, and off we go on a little educational adventure...
I find in researching royalty for my It's Reigning Men series, it can get super complicated, so many lords and dukes and marquesses and then if you change countries it's a marquis and don't even get me started on emperors and dowagers. If I want to adhere to strict rules of royalty as per Burke's Peerage, well, forget it. It gets far too complicated, and well, my characters aren't British. They're more like British-ish. With a soup├žon of Italian, and maybe un peu de fran├žais. With a little Scandinavian royal wedding-wear thrown in for good measure. Which has made it more fun yet occasionally more time-consuming, and more easy for me to just chuck the rules out the window and make up my own royal dictates. Sometimes you just gotta love fiction because it lets you just make it all up.
That said, I had worked for a long time on a book I had hoped would be a fantastic novel. It is, unfortunately, not that at all, and is in fact never going to see the light of a publishing day, so all that time and effort and gnashing of teeth was for nought. Although maybe not entirely because I did learn plenty from it--i.e. I learned not to waste my time on a lousy book. But I had to do some interesting research for that one because my characters needed to die in a car accident but be resuscitated in the emergency department (and yes, they are now called emergency departments, not emergency rooms). The resuscitation idea came up when I was reading Sam Parnia's Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death. Fascinating book, by the way. I was so intrigued with the universality about what happens with people who have died and been revived, so I decided to give my characters a chance to walk that path.
My town is a big hospital town, so it's easy to find medical types who are willing to help out. I reached out to someone I know who knew someone who was a nurse in the ED and happy to let me pick her brain. And she was amazing, gave me the grand tour, we sat in the trauma bays and she went over minute details about every piece of equipment in there and what would happen with a car accident and what might kill someone but leave room for resuscitation, then what would happen if the medical team was able to get their hearts working again. She gave me the names of a number of medical conditions that could fit into this category, which I then went down the rabbit hole of the internet to research more deeply.
A family friend is an EMT and she helped me to understand what would happen when they arrived on the scene of an MVA (motor vehicle accident, natch).
For the same book I needed my protagonist to develop a deep friendship with a man who'd been a cattle rancher in Australia. Oh they're not ranches in Australia, they're stations. So I reached out to some Australian friends for details about all things Oz I'd need to know for this. And the protagonist was a wedding photographer who was flown by a wealthy client to shoot their wedding on the Amalfi Coast (I actually have a photographer friend who had such luck!), so had to drill down for more information on where you'd marry there. I decided I didn't want it to be on Capri, so turned my sights to Positano, a town I love.
So while the book is dead, may it rest in peace (oh wait, maybe it was a cardiac tamponade that killed the book and can actually be revived with a needle precariously inserted into its pericardial sac!), I learned all sorts of interesting things and wasted much time that could have been spent on another book that might see the light of day. But I'm all the wiser for it, on a number of levels. At least that's what I tell myself.
Such is the day-to-day working of a writer, I guess! And I'm ever so grateful we have the internet to rely upon rather than having to stir up my allergies by delving into dusty, dark rooms full of old books I'd need to read cover-to-cover in order to glean the needed information.
Speaking of publishing books, today book four of It's Reigning Men, Love is in the Heir is being released--hope you'll check it out!
And I just re-released Anywhere But Here, with a brand spanking new cover. It's a book I've always enjoyed, and if you've not read it, feel free to mosey on over to see what you think!
Lastly, book 5 of the It's Reigning Men series, Shame of Thrones, is available for pre-order!

JennyGardiner_SomethingintheHeir200   JennyGardiner_HeirTodayGoneTommorrow200
JennyGardiner_BadtotheThrone200  JennyGardiner_LoveIsInTheHeir_200    AnywhereButHere1_200
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1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...