As a writer my life is full of research. Writing in the paranormal and supernatural genres doesn’t mean that we just make everything up by the seat of our pants. Believe it or not, there is a lot research and investigation that has been done in the paranormal field. (I know. I was part of that fringe group for many years and still occasionally partake of case work when I have the opportunity to consult etc.)
With that being said, one of my major projects is a series of shorter novels I’ve dubbed Armageddon Rising. The first book is out currently on Amazon.com. It deals with a protagonist who is a fallen angel and centers on end times prophecies. So there is a lot of research happening for me to carry on with the next book in that series. It is a very weighty topic to tackle even from the fiction angle.
Months ago I bought a book as part of that research. I put it on the shelf until I was ready to delve back into the topic and really didn’t think about it much after that. The other night, I was looking for something and it caught my eye. I thought I would go ahead and start reading it. Sure enough it is full of interesting and useful tidbits. I went to share those with family members who would find them equally as interesting and as we were talking about them my fingers randomly opened to part of the index. That’s when things got really strange.
In the second line of that page where I opened at random I find my legal last name. Then on the opposite page, I find a close relative’s name. Crazy right? And I’m not talking about just a first or a last name. I mean the whole thing. Knowing this person as I do and the context of this site they are named on, I wonder if they’ve ever googled themselves. It was just a super strange way to end the day and start a weekend of my own work (as opposed to the day job).
This weekend will be busy. Working Saturdays is always a thing. At least it has been for the last two and a half years or so. But, after 2:00pm tomorrow, I can refocus my efforts on research, writing, and my own projects. I’m ready for that. It has been a long start to the month and a super busy day today. So this lady is ready for a bit of R and R.
The old saying seems to be the norm in the publishing world. Especially when it comes to building a platform. Most of the books that I’ve picked up and research that I’ve done pertains to nonfiction work. There just aren’t many resources geared for fiction authors. The experts say to become an expert in something in order to build a platform around it. That’s fine if you have a particular subject you write about or you’re trying to teach something. It’s easier to build a platform and define an audience with those criteria for sure. My interests are so varied that I really cannot claim to be an expert in anything. Though, my experience and interest in the paranormal, along with my research over the years probably fuels my writing and is likely what others would consider my area of expertise. You’ll likely read a number of entries pertaining to my views on the research I do over time but, I wouldn’t call myself an expert. It is hard to be an expert in a subject that is, by its very definition, largely unknown.
For fiction writers things are a little different. Its important for us to keep our options rather open. We often research things that interest us to include in our work. And the beauty of that is that we can use multiple subjects and influences to make our work more interesting. There are many things that go into creating a novel but I think the most important element is character. In that regard, maybe fiction writers should become experts in psychology to understand the quirks and subtle nuances of people. Some of us probably are psychologists. But the truth is that so many, myself included, learn those things through observation rather than through academic study. How we develop characters is another blog topic entirely though.
This “Write What You Know” concept has been around for ages. And I think that for many it has been a good suggestion. However, where would literature be without free thinkers and writers who went out of their comfort zone to research and put forth new ideas and concepts? I think about Jules Verne in particular along with other science fiction authors. They have to research technology, medical sciences, space explorations, and other elements in order to make their worlds come alive. So, I think that it is also important for authors to get outside the comfort zone once in a while.
For my part, I get out of my comfort zone in Steampunk fiction. To build the world that I’m working on now it has taken a good deal of research into technology, Victorian customs, and medical terminology. There is also trying to get a better feel for what’s been done and what hasn’t. I personally don’t like to limit myself. I’ve found many good stories in various genres and I don’t read just one. I don’t expect that the people who read my work will be genre-specific either. Maybe I’m wrong in that expectation but I’d like to think that people have varied interests instead of tunnel-vision. But am I right in that thinking?
What do you think readers? Do you stick to a single genre or would say that you’re more multi-faceted than that?