Wednesday, September 30, 2015


by Clare O'Donohue

 Q: What is the research tool you turn to most often? How important is visiting the site of your story to your research?

Writers don't just write what we know, we write what we want to know. At least I do. Often I'll use the premise of my story as an excuse to learn about something that's always made me curious.

So in my Someday Quilts books my main character went to art school, because I've always loved drawing and painting. I took several art classes as research for the second book in the series. Those classes added a lot of detail my imagination alone wouldn't have been able to manage, and (bonus!) I fulfilled a desire to indulge a life-long hobby.

I did not paint this...

In an upcoming story I sent my characters to Ireland. So I went there first. I traveled to Ireland twice in the last year for research. (And family. And a little bit because the Guinness is better over there.) Even though I know the country well, being there while I was writing was essential to my telling the story authentically. I needed to walk the streets they would walk, and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of a place that I would later write about.

And, you know, I wanted to spend some time there, so - again - bonus!

...But I did drink this.

What I especially love is that "research" is the ultimate excuse to (forgive me Nike) Just Do It. Take the class, learn the skill, face the fear... You might make an idiot out of yourself but who cares? It's all fodder for some book. Because while research is looking up stuff on the internet, and talking to experts in a particular field - it's also living and learning, and then writing it down.

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