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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Author Insight: A Writer's Research

Do you approach research physically or virtually? Have you ever overlooked one of your findings to make a story work?

"Facts are facts. Ignoring the facts to make a story work is the surest way to have a story that doesn’t work." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"Mostly virtually. I have done some traveling to the area where the book I'm currently working on is set, but that's a privilege I've only had access to the last couple of years. For the most part, the internet is my library." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"In the future, I’d love to devote more time to physical research, but in the case of Quarantine, a lot of our research was online, looking at different floorplans and high school architecture. In the end though, our high school became its own creation, an amalgam of things we’d seen or experienced and things we simply needed for the story to work. There’s only so many settings in a locked high school, but the fun came when we got to re-imagine those places as gang turf." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"I do virtual research, and yes, all the time. At the end of the day, I believe readers want a good fiction story, not hard facts." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

"Ooo.. good question. I research a lot and no, if I learned something I wouldn’t feel right bending the truth to fit my story. But then again, I write fiction..so I can I always bend the story to fit the truth!" -  Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of Surfacing.

"As far as settings go, I personally know many of the places in Slated, Fractured, and book 3 (I really must name it soon...). The English countryside – footpaths and canal-ways in the Chilterns – are literally right out my door. I also used to work at the school Kyla attends in the first two books, Lord Williams’ School in Thame. Keswick in the Lake District in book 3 I have been to many times, but also made a specific research trip there while planning book 3. Other research aspects relate to memory and dreams, and brain structure: this was virtual research. Also these are areas I’ve been interested in and reading about for many years, so it was more of an ongoing obsession than defined research. I don’t think I ever overlooked a finding to make the story work, but of course as my books are set in the future with science beyond that which we are capable of today, I was pushing the boundaries of what is and isn’t known." - Teri Terry, author of Slated

"Usually virtually. I don’t tend to over-research, so often I’ll look things up on the fly using online resources. Occasionally I will ignore reality in favor of the story. For instance, in my series The Last Dogs I let the dogs see colors beyond gray, yellow, and blue, since otherwise I felt the descriptions would lack vibrancy. I figured, these dogs can talk and operate simple machinery, so fudging that detail isn’t too big a crime!" - Jeff Sampson, author of  Ravage

"Both. I do a lot via computer, but there's no substitute for physically walking the streets of the town in which the story is set. The smells... the sounds... the light... You can't get that through virtual research. I haven't overlooked a finding to make a story work. Instead, I've gone back and revised scenes and story lines to mesh with my findings." - A.B. Westrick, author of Brotherhood

"I have done both. I have written things before that I know technically couldn't happen (such as Harper working from the age she did on base) for the story…but that's the beautiful thing about fiction! BUT if I'm taking the time to actually research, then I'm not going to overlook my research to make my story work." - Molly McAdams, author of Taking Chances

"Most of the time, it's online. Occasionally, I have to visit somewhere to get a better idea of what the place looks/feels/smells like. And absolutely some facts are altered to make the characters/story/setting fit. I think fiction is always a melding of facts and 'enhancements.'" - Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost & the Goth and The Rules

"I use the internet and books almost exclusively for research, although I have been known to do location reconnaissance, and I have written or called some experts for interviews. In one case, a planetary geologist suggested an alternate setting for an asteroid crash for best climactic impact, but it didn’t fit my story as well. I have contingency plans for that rewrite if I must." - Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13. 

"Both! I regularly check in with Google Maps and photos of settings as I write. I also tend to set stories in places I've been or will be going to so that there's more authenticity to what I'm writing. Some things are harder to research in person, but if I know an expert in a certain field, I will ask questions. In that sense, I'm not really one to overlook findings--setting-wise or plot-wise--to make something work. With Nobody But Us, I actually drove the last stretch of the road my characters drive and ended up adding several things to the setting afterwards. I love when an author creates a real sense of place, so I do my best on that front by combining physical and virtual research as much as possible." - Kristin Halbrook, author of Nobody But Us. 

"I do a lot of research, both through medical journals and through forays into ‘method writing’ (listening to playlists my characters like, eating meals they eat, etc). There was one night in grad school when one of my friends and I (drunkenly) decided to immobilize my knee and make me try to accomplish all of the tasks Ezra does in the earlier chapters of Severed Heads. Needless to say, I went back and revised." - Robyn Schneider, author of The Begining of Everything.

Find out Thursday if the rest of the authors approach research physically 
or virtually. (And to enter the big giveaway!)

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