Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The blessings and curse of research

I've never formally researched for my fiction before. There have been questions here and there when I needed the details of something I wasn't intimately familiar with (usually a job or a drug) but for the most part I've written from what I know, a mix of personal experiences, time spent in a history book or at a bar, listening to someone tell a story.

I used to wonder why in interviews authors who had just published books based in a particular historical time-frame were wary of too much research. Wouldn't you want to know everything possible? I thought. Now I know why. You discover things you couldn't ever possibly know, which is great, but if you've already written certain parts, they must now change, which sucks.

My first trip to the library was today. There wasn't a lot that pertained to the time period I'm focusing on, probably because the late 50's is still too "recent." But I found enough. The point of the trip was become familiar with the culture and farming and, with luck, use what I learned to find a plot for this arc of the novel, the first of three. Well, I found it. And now, instead of the ins and outs of farming, I need to learn the terminology of building and navigating one of these. Except with a sail. It's called a pucan, a smaller version of a Galway hooker. A fishing boat no one uses anymore. Wish me luck.


  1. Looks like every Galway hooker I've ever known.

  2. And you win the prize for the very first "hooker" joke! I wondered who it was going to be, although you were the odds-on favorite.