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
Friday, April 14, 2017
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
Research can be quicksand for me. I start tracking down what
I need for my book and find something else fascinating along the way. Before I
know where time went, hours have passed and I’m on an entirely different
I’m unlike Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes
character, who didn’t want to fill his brain with unnecessary information that
might limit retaining the useful. Even if what I’m reading is not on target,
often a new story is triggered. At other times, the information may not be
anything I’ll ever use but sets me thinking about how lucky I am to live with a
loving, supportive husband in a house with modern appliances and
For instance, when I wrote O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, I had to
learn about coal mining in Central Texas in the latter quarter of the
nineteenth century. I thought I could quickly find what I needed online.
Instead, I found twentieth century information and that in England going back
to the ninth century. Eventually I found photos and the descriptions I needed—but
couldn’t stop reading.
At that time, I found that children and women used to mine
in the tight crevices and veins where a man couldn’t fit. In a tiny space they
had to crawl along with a lantern and drop coal into a bucket, the heat must
have been stifling. That’s probably why women wore only a strip of cloth around
the waist that covered only their privates with nothing above the waist. I don’t
imagine they lived long doing that work—or that they wanted to. Shudder. What a
sad life for them and for the children.
For THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE, I needed information on train
travel from Tennessee to Central Texas in 1878. I visited several railroad
museums and wrote to others. I have a thick binder now of railroad information.
Since then, that has been useful for numerous historical romances plus friends
have asked me to share facts with them. When I began the research, I had no
idea my data would be used so many times. That’s one time I didn’t fall into
quicksand while researching.
For THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE I did a ton of research on Irish
Travelers, nineteenth century Irish, traveler carts, blessings, and
superstitions. My husband and I were fortunate enough to take a tour of
Ireland. I admit Ireland fascinates me and I loved this research. I was able to
use a bit of it in OUT OF THE BLUE so I redeemed myself from the quagmire I’d
created. I’ve saved the information, of course, in case I think of a future
plot what would benefit.
As you can probably discern, my intent is to be historically
correct in each book without taking readers out of the story. Occasionally I
may miss something that my editor and beta readers don’t catch either.
Anachronisms or misinformation drives me crazy when I’m reading other authors’
books and I don’t want anyone to find them in the books I write. I may use only
a line or two that has taken a lot of research, but I want those lines to be
correct. Most authors share this opinion.
Do mistakes in books annoy you? Do you just skip over them
and keep going?