I’m pretty sure I took a course in college called “Research and Writing.” It wasn’t anything like the research I’ve been doing to write my novel. It’s tough when you’re writing fiction but want to keep things realistic. Especially when you’re writing fantastical fiction. For example, right now I’m working in a tsunami themed subplot. Guess who knows almost nothing about tsunamis. This girl! Or at least it was “this girl,” until I had to research tsunamis! Now I know all sorts of stuff about tsunamis. The National Data Buoy Center is my homepage and I’ve spent hours scouring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website.
I guess I should be glad that I have a catastrophe-themed subplot and not one involving paint drying or weed whacking. At least tsunamis are interesting.
Research can be really cool though (paint drying and weed whacking aside). I’m reading Dan Brown’s Inferno right now, and he got to do his research in Florence, Italy. Of course I’m sure Dan Brown is fabulously wealthy and can vacation in Florence if he wanted – but I’m sure he got to check out all sorts of neat places in the name of “Research.” In the Acknowledgments section, Mr. Brown says, “All the historians, guides, and specialists who generally spent time with me in Florence and Venice…my sincere thanks.”
Of course if you can’t afford travel outside the country (or outside of your house) to perform research for your book, there’s always Google (thank you God). Stephenie Meyers used to be in the, “have manuscript, unable to travel” pool. She said, “I turned to Google, as I do for all my research needs..” Link to Stephenie’s website
Actual facts courtesy of Google aside, I’m trying to keep things somewhat factual. I want things to be believable, but I’m definitely taking some artistic license with the facts. If my book ever gets published, there will be some reader who will be like, “that’s just totally not possible,” as he or she calculates the progression of said tsunami (or distance between buoys, etc., etc., etc.). I picture this person to be manning at desk at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and wearing over-sized glasses with thick plastic rims and coke-bottle lenses. And I am totally okay with that because that means that a) it was published and b) someone read it.