And so I've begun work on a new novel. Upon publication of American Socialite, I decided to take the rest of the summer off after a blast of grassroots marketing. Of course, the marketing will continue, but now the creative part of my mind is focused on my next book. That means I'm doing research. Not just any kind of research, but what I like to call Deep Research. I prefer to go beyond the normal bounds of learning about the subjects I use in my fiction. I like to reach the point of absorption. It's similar to method acting, only there's no acting involved and I obsess on the task before me on a complete 24/7 cycle.
I started doing this kind of detective work back when I worked on a screenplay about my hero, Joan of Arc. My Deep Research for that project took me everywhere from New York City to France, and led to my studying everything from Renaissance courtrooms to 15th century shoes, to what kind of flowers people back in Joan's own era cultivated. Since that time, I've felt I've cheated when I didn't dive head first into the far end of the research pool for a project. For American Socialite, I read Betsy Bonaparte's own letters, got information on the obscure names she mentioned in them, studied the layout of Baltimore at the time, and even taught myself about the fine dining practices of the era. And that was just for starters.
I feel this kind of work puts the reader in the world better than a cursory examination of people and places will. Deep Research also allows my to really understand the world of my characters. What's more, it provides me with a sound foundation whereupon I can decide what real life material to keep and what to fictionalize for the overriding and all important good of the story. To me, research isn't homework. It's a month's and sometimes year's long vacation of the mind. If I'm not living in the background of my work in progress, then I'm not doing my job properly. I'm also not getting everything out of what should be the most entertaining aspect of the book writing process. Research, believe it or not, is captivating and can be intensely fun.
Unlike my first two novels, my new novel won't be centered in the 1700's or 1800's. Instead, it will largely take place in the pop art culture of the 1960's. That's such a jump in time that my new novel will barely even qualify as being historical. Still, I'm engaging in Deep Research yet again, for I need to absorb everything I should about the people and world I'm going to write of. Everything. Otherwise, I won't be doing my job.
To grab a copy of my latest novel, American Socialite, just click on the link below: