Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Research Bookshelf

By Kelli Stanley

First, let me say this: it's good to be back at Criminal Minds. Thank you to Gary Corby and everyone else who pinch-hit for me during my absence! And thank you to our readers, those who've been with us since the beginning, and those who just, perhaps, stumbled across us, thinking we're related to the TV show. Welcome--and stick around, you may like us just as much. :)

Now, as to the shelf question.  I live in a very small house with my partner, two cats and a dog. What this means is that I have fewer bookshelves, but a lot of ledges, towers, bins and boxes full of books. Books in the basement, books in the kitchen, books in the foundation of the house ... you get the idea.

Along with books by fellow old and new Criminal Minds like Rebecca and Josh and Hillary and Michael and Gary and Meredith and Graham and Sue Ann and Vicki and Reece and Gabi and Shane and Sophie and (well, you get the picture) and my noir library (which contains my most precious writing collectible, the edition of Henry James given to Raymond Chandler and inscribed by John Houseman when Chandler finished The Blue Dahlia--yes, this book was once owned by Chandler and now reposes on one of my  bookshelves), and classics and Classics and books about film and film noir and books from childhood and books with memories and books as gifts ... have I mentioned how small our house is? But I digress ...

Anyway, along with all this plethora, this plenitude, this prodigality of the written word, are books and magazines and newspapers and articles that I depend upon every day. This is my sacred research shelf ... and most of these sometimes out-of-print, dusty and forgotten objects aren't available electronically, so an e-reader won't help me.

Y' see, I can't read fiction when I'm on a tight deadline and in the throes of a novel. And I'm on a tight deadline and in the throes of a the next Miranda Corbie book, City of Ghosts. So what I read is research ... research before and during the writing process.

So let's take a look at just a few items on the City of Ghosts bookshelf (which should give you some idea of some of the plot elements) ...

1. A handsome, over-sized paperback called Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. An out-of-print catalogue from an exhibit held at the Los Angeles County Art Museum ... absolutely priceless.

2. Tragic Train: "The City of San Francisco". Long out-of-print book from the '70s about the historic streamliner The City of San Francisco and its mysterious (was it really sabotage?) train wreck in 1939.

3. A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. Reasonable overview, though seems a little overeager to accept revisionist theories about the Verona cables and Alger Hiss.

4. Secret Armies: Exposing Hitler's Undeclared War on the Americas. A fascinating expose from 1939 by muckraking journalist John L. Spivak.

5. The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany. Terrific analysis and information.

There are many other books, of course--books about San Francisco, about the Spanish Civil War, books about forensics and California, pamphlets and maps and menus and matchbooks from the period. And perhaps my most valuable research tool, a 1940 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Telephone Directory. Miranda would be lost without her copy, and I would be, too.

Thanks for reading! And tell us  ... what kinds of bookshelves are in your house? :)


Gary Corby said...

Lovely to see you back!

Meredith Cole said...

Welcome back, Kelli! We missed you!

Is that the cover of your next book? Gorgeous! Can't wait to read it.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, Gary! And huge thanks for subbing for me--you're the best. :)


Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks a million, Meredith!! I've missed you guys, too.

Yeah, that's the cover ... now I have to finish the book and hope it lives up! :)

Michael Wiley said...

Great to have you back, Kelli! And great reading: especially City of Ghosts, which I'm looking forward to adding to my own shelf.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Michael! :) A Bad Night for Sleeping and The Bad Kitty Lounge certainly have a place of honor on my bookshelf!

Reece said...

Wonderful to have you back, Kelli! Love that new cover, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, Reece! I've missed you all!!

I'm very happy with the cover ... now I just need to finish the book. :)

Alan Orloff said...

Welcome back, Kelli! And I'll echo everyone else's comments about your cover--very nice!

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, Alan! It's great to see you here! :)