Tag Archives: researching a novel

How important is research? by S M Senden

I have been complimented over and over again about the depth of my research for Clara’s Wish, and my ability to re-create another era so readers feel as if they are right there.  In preparing for an interview, someone asked me that question ‘How Important is research?’  They thought that research amounted to reading a couple of books, looking up some things on the internet and that would be it.  Then I would be ready to write a book set in another era.

I had to laugh at that, for research ~ at least for me ~ can become a deep quagmire that is difficult to extract myself.  But then I do consider myself a devoted history geek.  Once I find myself doing some research on a subject, all too soon it points me in another direction, to another book, to another set of references and so on.

I am currently researching two historical settings for two books I am writing.  The periods are sufficiently diverse that it is easy for me to keep the research separate in my mind.  One of these stories is set primarily in Europe in the late 1700’s about the time of the American Revolution, running through the French Revolution and into the Napoleonic era.

The story is about a young girl, Eleanor, who has finished her education in the French convent and comes home to live in England with her only living relative ~ her sister.  The sister has married well and has young children.  They introduce Eleanor into the society of the Bon Ton hoping to find her a suitable husband.

In researching this strata of society, I was caught up in the amazing and volatile times in which they lived.  Since I am a hopeless history geek, I like to have readers learn something as well as be swept along in a good story.  Dorothy Sayers always managed to teach readers something, and I aspire to emulate her.  I read about the people that I wanted to include, in some way in my book, for their lives were extraordinary.  Some in particular are Madame Tussaud, Miss Lenormand, the Duchess of Devonshire and the possibilities that arise when the some of these people meet at Spa in Belgium with a whisper of possible spies and political intrigue.

I have no idea at this point where all my research may take me.  I have the idea for the story and what I would like to have happen to the main characters.  Yet, I do not know how this will end.  My research may change the story or it may reinforce it.  That is the process that I love, creating, pulling research and story together to make another era come alive, not just for me, but for those who read the words I have written.

So, how much research is enough?  I can only say that ~ for me ~ my research never seems to end, for it always points me in a new direction.  However, I do have to get the story written, and as I continue the research process, I can add or take something away and make corrections as I work.  Sooner or later, I will need to say, enough and hope that I have done my best to create another era and bring a fulfilling experience to my readers.

Right now, I better get back to research, for there are still so many books to read!

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Interview With Deborah J Ledford, Author of Snare and Staccato

Hi, Deborah. Could you provide us with a little bio?

I am first and foremost a suspense thriller author. My latest novel, SNARE, is The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist. STACCATO is book one of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series and both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. I’m also a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. My award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications, as well as literary and mystery anthologies.

What is your training and experience?

Before my writing career I was a professional scenic artist for movies, theatre and industrial films. Then I started writing screenplays. I see writing as an extension of the visual form, and due to my experience writing scripts my novels are quite visual and heavily dialogue driven. I also have my own independent film production company and will be writing the screenplay for SNARE.

Could you tell us about SNARE?

The tagline is: Revenge with a beat. It’s the journey of popular rock star Katina Salvo who is about to embark on her first personal appearance. She’s just learned she’s been receiving death threats and unbeknownst to her, her father has recently been released from prison for killing her mother 15 years earlier. Her six day journey, along with Deputy Steven Hawk who is assigned to protect Katina, takes her on a path of murder, revenge, retribution and discovery.

What was the path to publication for SNARE?

SNARE began as a screenplay, then I went on to novelize the piece much later. It’s been through so many evolutions since day one. I began to get serious about what was to become the printed version of novel before my debut novel STACCATO was published in 2009. SNARE was released 12.21.10.

What sort of research did you do for this book?

I’m part Eastern Band Cherokee and knew that I wanted the Native American element to be instrumental for SNARE. Once I decided on the Tribe to focus on I came into contact with the communications director on the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez read every word of the manuscript as I composed each draft. He either approved scenes, characters and elements, or told me flat out “No, you cannot use this.” (he told me this quite often!) Elements Floyd wasn’t sure about were cleared by elders and the Taos Pueblo Tribal Council.

Why are the settings in your novels so important to you?

I decided if I was going to write an ongoing series the location would be every bit as important as the characters. I spent my summers growing up in western North Carolina, in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Since this locale is rarely featured in print, and I know it so well, this is where I decided to set the overall main location. The characters, their motivation and journey are sparked from the areas featured in both books. For the other location in SNARE, I fell in love with the Taos Pueblo, New Mexico reservation and its people after researching for the Native American tribe I wished to highlight in the book.

Could you share one of your favorite paragraphs in SNARE?

Sure. The paragraph below indicates the spiritual connection Deputy Steven Hawk shares with the female lead, Native American Katina Salvo. The scene appears in Chapter 48 when Hawk and Steven are on the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation:

Hawk took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Well, I felt something. Kind of like when I think my dad’s visiting me. He died almost seven years ago, but sometimes I swear he’s in the room when I’m alone. I’ve got a wind chime hanging on the back porch. It’s just a little copper bell, but sometimes, when it’s real quiet, and not a leaf is stirring, that bell strikes a single ting.”

Where do your ideas come from?

Some come to me in quite vivid dreams, but most ideas for my novels and short stories are prompted by real-life events. I love the CNN news crawl—short headline-type info that more often than not you never hear anything else about. A lot of subplots have been prompted by news related events. Also, I’m a people watcher and I try my best to implement characteristics, ticks and sometimes dialogue from actual people I’ve witnessed.

How can we find out more about you?

Free downloads of the first chapters to SNARE and STACCATO, as well as a few of my previously published short stories can be found on my website. I’m also on Twitter, have a Personal Page on Facebook as well as a Facebook Book Page, and the great book site Goodreads.

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