Please welcome my guest, Louisa Edwards!
I’ve never considered myself a good researcher. In school, it took everything I had to cobble together enough sources and information to write a decent paper—and I freely admit that the exercise taught me more about the fine art of B.S. than it did about whatever topic I was assigned. I actually don’t remember the subject of my senior thesis—but it did get an “A.”
It’s not that I was unaware of the importance of research; I always felt vaguely guilty that I didn’t enjoy it more. When it came to writing fiction, fear of research was the biggest factor that steered me away from writing my first romance genre love, historicals. But what didn’t dawn on me as I set out to try my hand at a paranormal romance that will never see the light of day, was that all books require research. When I tried paranormal, I thought, “Perfect! I’ll never have to look anything up, because I get to invent all the rules as I go. And if I ever get into a sticky situation, I can just use magic to conjure my way out of it!”
You can probably see why my brilliant agent, Deidre Knight, read through that paranormal manuscript and immediately started nudging me to set it aside and write something completely different. Hard as that was to hear, she was absolutely right. I didn’t have a passion for the craft of writing paranormals, much as I enjoy reading them.
And that turned out to be the missing ingredient all along: passion. Research is nothing but a boring slog—unless you happen to be vitally interested in every minute detail of the subject you’re studying. Once Deidre got me to take a step back, I looked at my life and my interests and realized that I’d been researching a culinary romance for months without knowing it.
I’d devoured kitchen memoirs like Heat by Bill Buford and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and food treatises, like The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I’d become severely addicted to shows like “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay,” “Iron Chef,” and “Top Chef.” I’d cultivated friendships with chefs across the country, wheedling my way into their kitchens and peppering them with questions. And, most of all, I was deeply invested in spending time in my own kitchen, working to expand my knowledge of the fundamentals so I could move beyond the basics to try new things.
All of that was research—but it was never a chore. Many readers and reviewers have commented on the depth of culinary knowledge evident in my debut contemporary romance, Can’t Stand the Heat, and I’ll tell you now—no compliment pleases me more. I feel like I finally have the hang of this research thing!
If what you’re researching doesn’t interest and excite you, take a step back and figure out what does. You won’t regret it. What was the last subject that fired your passion?
Louisa’s running a contest. Visit her website for details.
Thanks, Louisa! I’m hungry now….
Tune in tomorrow for Snippet Saturday. The theme is “Weaponry.”
Believe it or not, I'm researching old tourist spots in Florida. And loving it. As a kid (very young, mind you) I remember Florida Pre-Disney and all the really campy fun tourist attractions, like Weeki Wachi (real life mermaids!) and Silver Springs (glass bottom boats). I want to bring that ol' time feel to the tourist shop that the heroine in my wip works at it. I just find it all so fascinating!
Cooking for you, Louisa is like breathing. So natural! You're right about it not being work when you're researching something you love!
I can't wait to read your newest, Maria! I can just taste the salty air…or is that from the rim of my margarita? ; )
Now I want to read Maria's Florida book, too….