Monday, July 21, 2008

Research...back in the day





CURRENTLY WORKING ON: My next three book proposal, due September 15th. It is book 3, 4, and 5 of my 5 book School of Gallantry Series.

MOOD: Bloody excited!!! Why? I'm finally heading home to see my hubbie after spending 4 weeks in muggy Chicago and RWA National is just around the corner!!!

No matter what genre an author writes in, it involves research. Some may be more involved than others, but in the end, it's all about the research, baby. Because I'm away from home and won't be getting back onto my computer until late, late tonight, I don't have access to all my wonderful online research sites. But let me say this. As a historical writer, I try to be as authentic as possible by involving details of history that can't be found in regular books. Which is why my research involves old newspapers and the computer. There are SO many wonderful online resources, that sadly, the library as we know it will one day completely disappear. Because the reality is, people can find more information in less time sitting at home than heading off to the library and hunting down books that are either all checked out or no longer available. And with gas prices going up and up...well, nothing can beat sitting at home and doing research. Of course finding the right key words is a whole other thing. There are so many old newspapers that have "disappeared." Their names and the impressions they made upon the society around them have flitted away into the abyss forever. They are priceless artifacts people forget about, artifacts that represent true moments in time (no matter how biased). And the best way to hunt down the names of these old newspaper is by digging up non-fiction books in the era you are most interested in. I write about London 1830. So I went about reading and researching the newspapers of the era.
Several online sources charge you and depending on how you value research and history (as well as how much access you'll be getting) is may be worth the money. But you'd be surprised how much is posted for free. Newspapers back in the day covered so much, that it's simply invaluable to my writing. Events that have long been forgotten were discussed, parties and the rich were gossipped about, various clothing, the styles, who went bankrupt, who died, who got married, and the list just goes on and on. As an example, many books discuss 1830 clothing and many are insightful and wonderful, but in the end, nothing is going to ever beat a description of fashion and style as it was written IN 1830. And that's what I live for!!! Research to me is all about accurate information that will help immerse me in the world I am trying to write about and in turn immerse my reader. Research is what makes everything real. And so I start with what would have been real to my character back in the day. The newspaper.
Until Next time and Cheers,
Delilah Marvelle

9 comments:

Jennifer Ross said...

Good post, Delilah. My problem with reading newspapers from 'back in the day' is I get so side-tracked! I'll go in looking for a specific article that I know was in that day's edition of that paper, and five hours will have vanished before I remember what I wanted in the first place.

But I disagree with you about libraries. My library homepage is my most-used portal to research available on the internet. It is also the place where I store my microfilm reader, for reading said newspapers. And every once in awhile, I come across a textbook that has information not found on the web. I go to my library and check it out!

Jenn

Sandy said...

Delilah,
I certainly hope you're wrong about libraries. I have one just a few blocks from me. It's great to go to university on-line libraries all over the world.

Thank you for the post.

Sandy

Jessa Slade said...

Yeah, research, whether in books or online, is definitely a candyland path that can keep you lost for days. And the temptation to use what you've learned... Yikes.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Delilah!

Love the graphic of the old newspaper. Newspapers are wonderful for contemporary research too. The setting for one of my books took place in a part of Oregon where I haven't spent much time lately. I subscribed to the newspapers in that area and got a wonderful flavor for day-to-day life in those towns. All the things you mentioned about historical newspapers are true about current newspapers too, especially the ones in small towns. Like talking with a neighbor you run into at the grocery store.

Thanks for the reminder that I need to subscribe to newspapers again as I start writing my next story!

Delilah Marvelle said...

HI Jennifer! Hi Sandy! And Jessa! First off, thank you so much for posting! As well as your honesty. Love that. For me, sadly, my local library has fizzled in its ability to offer me the sort of resources I need. Not to say it will fizzle for anyone else. My library has disappointed me time and time again. :( I can never find ANY of the books I want or newspapers on microfilm that I need. Sigh. There are incredible libraries available, I agree, but the problem is funding for them. And there is and will always be big money behind the internet. Which is why the resources online keep growing. Google books for me is another amazing resource no library could ever compete with. And Jennifer, my biggest problem with reading newspaper from "back in the day" is the same as yours. Getting caught up. But I make a point to be a good girl and say "Today we are only looking for clothes. Skip all others." (It works half the time...LOL). Thanks again for posting!!!

Delilah Marvelle said...

Thanks Genene for posting! And you are so right. It was like getting the best of gossip and being right there. :0)

Sandy said...

Deliah,
If you ever need medical information, Kansas Medical Center has a wonderful on-line library. Also, all universities have on-line libraries.

Sandy

Anne Carrole said...

Totally agree. I particularly love the New York Times for the Victorian era. Lots of great stuff.

Delilah Marvelle said...

Thanks Sandy for the tip! You're right. A lot of Universities have great online sources! I've used a few (though some want memberships and money...but hey, good resources are worth spending the pennies) I luuurve the New York Times. Someday I plan to write a historical set in New York. Oh yeah.