Why am I asking this question, I hear you ask – well, it’s exactly what someone asked me yesterday. In other words, the reader/aspiring writer had written a contemporary novella and felt worried by the fact she hadn’t done any research at all.
I knew absolutely she would have but probably didn’t consider that research comes in many forms and guises. She explained the book is a contemporary romance, set in a fictional town dealing with the changes the heroine goes through after the one-year anniversary of her divorce.
OK, straight forward, right? Wrong!
I can immediately see two things that would have needed an element of research:
1) The fictional town – entirely made up or loosely based on a real place? If you dig deep into a writer’s imagination, settings are more often than not connected to a place they know well or have at least visited. Research.
2) Divorce – has the writer experienced it themselves? Been closely involved with someone who has? I am never comfortable talking about something as emotional as divorce without being entirely sure I am capturing the true feeling what it feels like to go through such a thing. Research.
And it has to be true for every single story we write – romantic suspense and historical romance writers are most likely to have the most arduous research task taking into account police procedures, forensics evidence or Victorian clothes and food. I, personally, love research (especially for my historicals!) but have to be careful I don’t spend too much time reading and googling rather than actually writing some words.
So onto my latest release, Getting It Right This Time, available now from Lyrical Press. What was the research for this particular novel? Well, it’s a contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Foxton, England about a heroine who is mother to three-year-old Jessica and recently widowed. She is returning to her hometown in the UK after leaving five years before to live in Zante with her snowboarding husband. It wasn’t a life she wanted but after failing to move forward with her true love (the hero), she mistakenly believed she could be happy with another man.
When she returns she is a different person than the one who left…
1) Mothering a young daughter – my own experiences, emotions, pressures were used to make this relationship as authentic as possible.
2) Losing a husband – this was different in that the heroine has fallen out of love with him by the time he dies but I did talk to family members who have lost a husband and also friends who have divorced. I wanted to truly understand and feel this type of bereavement/feeling of failure and guilt that comes so often with the end of a marriage.
3) Fear/lack of trust – again, a lot of my own experiences came out in this novel. I revisited emotions and situations I would rather forget but were necessary to add depth and believability to the heroine’s indecision and doubt. I hope I succeeded!
Here’s the blurb and buy link (if you feel so inclined!)
Two years after her husband’s death, Kate Marshall returns home a widow, seeking security and stability for her three-year-old daughter. But when her path crosses with ‘the one who got away’…her husband’s best friend, she has to fight the desire to be with him for the sake of further heartbreak for her,,,and her daughter.
A tough, straight talking theatrical agent, Mark Johnston is dangerously handsome, exceedingly rich, irresistibly charming – and branded by the tabloids as one of the UK’s most eligible bachelors. So even though he lost the girl of his dreams five years before to his best friend, Mark finds no hardship is being single. Or so he thought…but now Kate is back.
Determined not to lose her a second time, Mark has to find a way to convince her they can work. But can Kate cope with the media interest and ruthless, money-hungry clients surrounding him being anywhere near her daughter? Or accept that Mark Johnston is really the family man he claims to be?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience with regard to research!