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Monday, 28 May 2012

Touching on research


Someone recently asked me to write a blog entry about how I researched aspects of Mine to Avenge.
Keeping track of events and dates was an important part of writing Mine to Avenge, given its generational span. I had to blend the lives of the fictional characters with actual historical events and dates.
As I wrote, I kept a running chronology of the real and fictitious events. I thought this would be a useful device to employ when I realised I had written one character into a scene after determining her to be dead at an earlier stage of the story.
I also compiled a family tree for the two families in the novel to record birthdates and marriages. One of the family trees will be included within the novel as a reference, but the second one contains plot-spoiler details, so has been omitted.
Some of the historical events and elements I researched for background were Greek village life pre World War 2, Greece’s involvement in the war, post war Greek emigration, Greek cultural life in Australia, and also the September 11 attacks, particularly the layout of streets around the World Trade Center. I have a wonderful friend in the US who helped me with the Manhattan scenes, giving me the background detail needed to add authenticity. I also studied eyewitness accounts and footage of the September 11 event to bring drama and realism to the few chapters where the event is central.
I also researched weather records to write certain scenes for particular dates, such as when a particular character was run down by a car on a rainy night. I was almost caught out with dates when writing a particular scene involving a school. I ascribed a date to the scene without first finding out whether it was actually school term time on that particular date. When I finally thought to check, I found that this particular date fell during school holidays, so I had to change the scene accordingly. I was unable to change the date of the event because it would have created a continuity problem elsewhere.
Readers are smart, and there is always someone who knows what the weather was like on a certain day, or that a particular event couldn’t have occurred in a certain way because of factors overlooked in research. I have endeavoured to be accurate where I can, and where there was any doubt, I either left it out or wrote in a deliberately general or non-specific way.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Kerry,
    I love research and can easily get caught up in it. When I wrote my historical, young adult novel, "Spurs for Jose," the most difficult thing for me was trying to write the way people talked over 150 years ago.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback Wanda. Much appreciated.

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