I have something fun for you again today. Mae Clair and I are blogging about researching your novel today. You know the drill, my post will appear at From the Pen of Mae Clair.
Settings, Research and the Mothman by Mae Clair
A huge thanks to C. S. Boyack for inviting me to be a guest on his highly entertaining blog. I’m not sure where or when we originally connected in the blogosphere, but I’ve found he’s always got some interesting slice-of-life musing or observation to share. Craig is also a guest on my blog, From the Pen of Mae Clair today, so be sure to hop over and give him a shout-out if you can!
As an author, I primarily write romantic suspense and mysteries, but I’ve got a strong slant for most things mythical. I’m also mildly obsessed with folklore, cryptozoology (think Nessie and Big Foot) and urban legends. Every Monday I run a post called “Mythical Monday,” in which I blog about some aspect of the ethereal world, or shine the spotlight on a beastie of legend.
And that leads me to my topic for today. Strange as the segue may seem, I wanted to share some thoughts on research. I presently have four releases on the market with a fifth, MYTH AND MAGIC, due to publish on June 9th through the Lyrical Press imprint of Kensington Publishing. With each of those novels, I created fictional settings and towns. I never wanted to use an actual “place” because that would involve research. Ugh!
But a while back, I developed an idea for a novel spun around the legend of the Mothman. Remember that cryptozoology thing I mentioned? Well, for those who might not be familiar, the Mothman is a winged humanoid (cryptid) who plagued Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966-1967. You might remember the Mothman Chronicles with Richard Gere—a movie based on the bestselling book by John Keel. Hundreds of people reported seeing the Mothman in Point Pleasant, and also among the abandoned buildings and “igloos” of a nearby old WWII munitions storage facility. Now a wildlife management area, that facility is known locally as “The TNT.”
How could I realistically write a book about the Mothman without visiting Point Pleasant? Sure I could research the area online, haunt Google Earth sites, and read all the books I could get my hands on—all of which I did. But without visiting Point Pleasant and the TNT, I felt I couldn’t accurately capture the flavor of the area. For the first time, I would be writing a novel with an established town as the setting, and I wanted to do it justice.
So I convinced my husband we should take an extended weekend trip to Point Pleasant. You won’t find touristy attractions there, or hotels catering to spa-like leisure activities, but you will find a town that has changed dramatically since 1967.
It isn’t just the legend of the Mothman that haunts the area, but also the memory of the Silver Bridge—an eyebar suspension bridge that spanned the Ohio River between Point Pleasant and Gallipolis, Ohio. On December 15, 1967, at the height of rush hour traffic, that bridge collapsed into the icy river below, claiming 46 lives.
For someone who routinely fictionalized settings, learning to pay tribute to the spirit of an established town and its history—good and bad—was an action I’m glad I took. Fortunately, I live on the East Coast, so the drive was only a little over six hours each way.
What about you? How much research would you do for a WIP,or how much have you done? How important do you rank author research when writing, or even, reading a novel?
The book I mentioned above will be ready for submission to my publisher in the next two weeks. In the meantime, should you like to take a glance at any of my current releases—ranging from time/travel paranormal romance, to contemporary romantic suspense/mystery, I invite you to check out my Author Page on Amazon.
Thanks again to Craig for allowing me to take over his blog for the day. Any Mothman or urban legend fans out there?
You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts: