BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE!
Caroline Clemmons writes historical and contemporary genre fiction. Historical romances, contemporary romantic suspense, mysteries, and paranormals are among her current works. Learn more about her at www.carolineclemmons.com
Monday, October 03, 2016
RESEARCH IS MY FRIEND!
As a certified nerd, I have always loved research. After my
parents bought me a set of encyclopedias for my tenth birthday (before Google,
folks), I was one of the kids who read the volumes for fun. I probably still
would, but that old, 26-volume set was donated to charity a decade ago to free up bookshelf space.
Now I rely on my personal Texas research books and good old Google and Wikipedia.
While investigating one subject, I find numerous related
ideas for other writings. In addition, I love reading interesting stories about
people and places associated with my books. I don’t mind taking road trips for
research trips, either.
Last year when writing O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, I delved into
coal mining in Texas in the mid-nineteenth century. Until I lived in North
Central Texas, I associated the Appalachian states with coal. I was surprised
to learn that there have been numerous coal mines in Texas. There was even a
town named Coal.
As is a hazard of research, I was caught up in the manner in
which coal was mined centuries ago—the parts of which involving women and
children were positively gross. Going off on a tandem as I often do is a distinct possibility
and can be a serious time sink.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
Another time I got carried away is researching Irish
Travelers for the book THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. Anything Irish fascinates me. I was fortunate enough to see Travelers in Ireland and their restored wagons in museums. In addition, I learned there was a large settlement of Travelers in a Fort
For the same book, I wanted to know more about Lost Maples
State Natural Area. On a trip back from San Antonio, my youngest daughter and I
detoured by Lost Maples. No, it’s not on the way from San Antonio to Fort
Worth, but we pretended it was and had a lovely time.
For my contemporary, GRANT ME THE MOON in COME LOVE A COWBOY, I researched Garza and
Clovis archeological sites. The fictional hero found a site on his ranch that rivaled a
Garza site in—wait for it—Garza County near Post. I learned new facts about
prehistoric settlements. A few tidbits even made it into the book.
When researching railroad travel for THE MOST UNSUITABLE
WIFE, I really went overboard and visited several railroad museums and
corresponded with museums in other parts of the country. Fascinating stuff, especially the MKT in Denison. Unfortunately, that museum was the victim of a squeeze by business interests and was closed. What a shame! My research yielded a
two-inch binder filled with information on all aspects of nineteenth-century
travel plus several books on the subject. Not wasted, since I’ve used the information in other books plus shared
information with several friends.
The ranches I use for my Stone Mountain Texas/Men of Stone Mountain series were discovered on an historical tour of Palo Pinto County years ago. Barbara Belding Gibson had just released her book titled PAINTED POLE. She and her husband allowed visitors to tour their gorgeous, historic ranch, which was the perfect setting for my series. They preserved the original cabin and incorporated it into the current home. I've since toured her home two more times and have visited other historic ranches such as Johnson's League Ranch on a similar tour. Sadly, Mrs. Gibson passed away a few years ago at a moderately young age.
Masterson Ranch Line Shack at the National Ranching Heritage Center
For ranch buildings, I love visiting the National Ranching Heritage Center on the campus of Texas Tech in Lubbock. Homes and outbuildings from all over West Texas have been located and restored in this living outdoor museum that is adjacent to the university museum. Everything from a dugout to a luxurious nineteenth century home to the barn from the 6666 Ranch can be seen.
I wish I could be the type researcher who goes directly to a
fact, determines that’s all he/she needs, and gets back to writing. Nope.
Probably never going to happen. ☺
Do you enjoy research? Do you insist books you read portray
historic facts correctly or do you allow the author leeway?