Gina Henning has written an interesting guest post for my blog about how she researches for her books.
Research: Scoping out the Scene
I’ll let you in on a secret-one of my number one resources is: Google. Oh, I guess that wasn’t that big of a secret. True enough, however if you looked at my internet browser history you would find an array of searches. Including but not limited to various languages, restaurants, trees, architectural styles, cars, and the list goes on.
When I’m writing a story I research everything. I create a Pinterest board (I’m @henningland) of outfits, food, decorations, restaurants, trees, you name it. I look up weather history to determine what the temperature would be like during the time of year I’m writing and if snow is possible like in How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake. I also research stores and what they sell.
In How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie, there are few scenes that include being in a car. As I was writing I looked at dozens of images of the interior of cars, their buttons, stereo controls and dashboards. I needed to be in the car with my characters. How close would they be? Would their hands touch at any point? What roads would they encounter during their trip? What would they see?
In How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake, Lauren goes to a few restaurants, for these scenes I checked out places where each scene is set and what types of food they serve. Sometimes I might take something from a menu and other times I’m inspired by what I see or the characters let me know what they would prefer to order. Jack is not the kind of guy who likes having food ordered for him!
In both How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie and How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake, the readers get to enter the homes of Lauren and some of the other characters. While writing these scenes I checked out the architectural designs in the area and how it would look from the inside. What type of bedding does my character have? Does Lauren like to keep her home warm or cool?
Kitchens are important in both How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie and How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake as they revolve around baking. I had to decide what the kitchens looked like. Were they warm and sunny or cold and bleak?
Sometimes I have to determine the plausibility of a situation, could this happen in real life? Yes, in a fictional world anything can happen, but I want my readers to have confidence that whatever takes place in my stories is actually possible.
Besides the Home for the Holiday Series I have written a few other stories. One in particular revolves around an invasive species and how it happened. This story took a lot of research to determine if the plot could be possible.
In addition to the internet, I also use daily life in my stories. Some events or character traits that pop up in my books are pulled from things I or someone I know has experienced. When I’m watching a movie I take down notes about facial expressions and body movement. If a person is sad, how do they look? What do their shoulders do? When someone is nervous how do they act? Does their speech change? What do they do with their hands?
There are two funny quotes, I have recently seen about writing: “Yes, I am writing about you” and “Oh, this is so going in my next novel.” I think these both pretty much sum up the way I research things for my books.
How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie
How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake