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Monday, May 21, 2012

Addicted To Research

Old Enough To Know Better by Joan ReevesHi! My name is Joan, and I'm a research-aholic.

That's right. I confess I have a problem with research. More specifically, in saying no to reading research books.

Unfortunately, there's no 12 Step program for those of us who pull a research book from the shelf and get lost in its pages. Quite simply, research is addictive.

My Obsession

I love to research with a "real" book, meaning a print one. I find print books are perfect for armchair research. Curl up in a big chair, flip through the pages, stopping when an interesting passage catches the eye. Unfortunately, I usually can't stop reading because I find everything interesting when I'm fascinated with a subject.

Cheese, Wine, Army Intelligence Agents

For example, take my romantic comedy Old Enough To Know Better. The hero, Sean Butler, had been in U. S. Army Intelligence. Of all the research I did into that compelling subject, only a paragraph or two of background and Sean's habit of assessing what the heroine said as either truth or lie made it into the finished book. But, oh, what a fascinating subject. The Army Interrogators like I made Sean are the first to disdain torture and water boarding as seen in the news. They will flat tell you that the guys that did that were not with the Army.

Sean was also a vineyard owner. Despite everything I learned about the Texas Wine Trail and growing wine grapes in the Lone Star State, only a couple of sentences ended up in the book.

I did similar research about Stormy Clarkson, the heroine of Old Enough To Know Better. Stormy was a college history professor who taught a class about frontier women who won the west by cooking. She was an artisan cheese maker. In the opening scene she's demonstrating how to make mozzarella cheese. That opening scene and a bit of another scene where she talks about Home on the Range: A Culinary History of the American West by Cathy Luchetti, a simply wonderful book, is all the background that made it into the book despite all that I learned about how frontier women accomplished everyday cooking tasks.

Since I learned so much about artisan cheeses, I decided to include the recipe for mozzarella in the Bonus Features of Old Enough To Know Better so anyone who wanted to try it – and it's easy – could cook up a batch in her own kitchen.

Post Script

One side benefit about doing so much research for books is that I learn a lot about many different subjects. As a result, I'm in great demand when it comes to board games. Anyone for Trivial Pursuit?

3 comments:

  1. Joan, I so sympathize with you. Research pulls me in and I go off on tangents until I've wasted valuable writing time. Well, not truly wasted, because much of the tangential research helps me in another book. Still, I think I should have been a research librarian back when there actually was such a thing. Nowdays, librarians are library media specialists. That's what my elementary school librarian daughter's title is. At least her school still has a librarian. Many schools do not. So sad.

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  2. Hi Joan, like you I love research. It's fascinating.

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  3. Joan, if I loved research for the sake of research, I would be in trouble. I love reading, though, and I call that research. Good thing I know which folks' books can be like research for me. (grin)

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