For me research is fun. I set my books in my home town, or close to my home town of Chicago. The city is vibrant colorful, filled with museums, galleries, actually anything that is needed. It is indeed a worldly city, and a short car ride will allow me to play tourist.
I also set my books internationally, so far it has been Paris, Bath, and am currently working on Venice. I love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit the places I write about. For me, having visited the places I write about makes it more real. I can easily place myself on the scene I write about.
That being said, I still need to research the subject I’m writing about. In a Hotel in Venice, my current WIP, I’m writing about Murano, an island famous for glass blowing, about a thirty minute vaporetto (public ferry) ride from Venice.
I visited a furnace the first time I visited Venice, and was lucky enough to be given a tour, but not an extensive one. Most of the furnaces are not open to the public, it’s a business, and the master blowers have spent years learning their techniques, and those are protected and closely guarded secrets. There are a couple of museums, and many tourist stores in Murano, so the visual inspection helps in describing the places.
I’m also writing about those techniques, the glass blending, and the fact that a master blower gets killed. So, off to the internet I go. There is quite a bit of information available on the process, the history, the commonly known ‘secrets’.
It is much easier to do research, thanks to the internet. Whereas before, hours and hours were spent in libraries and bookstores, now we can do it from the comfort of our home. I love that process.
I learned there were glass daggers used for more than decoration. I learned the glass blowing process, and some of the techniques used. I learned about Venetian and Murano history, the tourist industry, the businesses, what is needed to survive living on an island, now and hundreds of years ago. I learned new things, that is the exciting part for me. That, and of course the travel.
I’m going back to Venice this summer, first because I love the city, and I need to reacquaint myself with a few galleries, a costume museum, a few of the places my hero and heroine will visit, and get a firm picture of the hotel they’ll be staying in; a converted palazzo. Descriptions are important to me, they make the place come alive. I’ll take a few hundred pictures, and hopefully get one that will fit my hotel series platform.
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks