I love this writing lark, it frees your soul from the drudgery of every day life, and Lord knows we need it right now.
I love the research element in particular, real life is…well let’s just say, you couldn’t make it up.
With the historical novels I write, historical in terms of being within living memory, research is key to making your writing believable.
I’ll give you an example.
The Last Breath in Williamsburg, my first Patrick Teller Supernatural Thriller is set in New York City in 1935.
During this part of American history, the Great Depression was biting really hard, 25% of Americans were without work. Now I researched how they were fed by the state and assumed that the queued for food at soup kitchens etc, which they did. It was known collectively as ‘the bread line’.
Naturally I assumed people would be ‘in’ the bread line, as in ‘in a line’ but alas no. New Yorkers at this time were ‘on’ the bread line.
A small but very important mistake to rectify. Without that correction, credibility amongst those who know, would immediately have vanished.
But there are more, many more fascinating things to research and these things not only gives you a thrill as you uncover them, but also gives a writer some extremely interesting storylines.
Back to The Last Breath in Williamsburg, at the time, 1935, the Empire State Building’s observation deck, a mere 1000 feet up, had just the smallest wall, around hip height between the visitors and a flailing death.
A thriller writers dream.
Another fact, Grand Central Terminal in New York has a mural of the night sky painted on it’s ceiling. It shows the signs of the zodiac, but it is reversed. Why is that? Nobody knows, but a theory is that it is the view that God has, how very perfect for a Patrick Teller novel which has religion, angels, demons and symbology at it’s heart.
Recently, I began to research for The Cross on the Skyline, the second Patrick Teller novel set two years later. So taking my obsession in getting the information accurate, I needed to ensure I understood what the fashion styles of the time and in this case, just how the Warren County Police Department (Virginia, seeing as you asked), were dressed at the time.
Now, here’s the interesting historical part.
Virginia was right on the border of the North and the South during the American Civil War, so in an attempt to unify the communities, the police adopted a Union Blue Tunic and Confederate Grey trousers.
A beautiful nugget of information for a thriller writer if ever there was one.
So I do love this writing lark, but not just the putting the pen-to-paper bit, the research is a thrill in itself, although it is a little strange sitting in Starbucks with a google search open at How to be a witch, or, How to kill someone and bring then back to life again, or even, How to balance your outfit with the perfect Lilly Dache hat.
Still, I love this writing lark.
PS, thank you Chris Moss for the information about ‘the buzzer’ a secret radio signal being continually sent from Russia, and which has been for the past 40 years.
A storyline for Patrick Teller when he enters the war years?