Does it ever boggle your mind to think about the vast amount of information that’s available to us today through an internet search? No matter what the subject, we can learn all sorts of interesting facts. Of course we have to be careful in choosing our sources. And we authors have to be diligent when we’re researching our stories because we want our fiction writing to be taken seriously. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story faster than mistakes about a subject he/she knows well. Academics also must take special care to be sure their sources are accurate and trustworthy or risk losing credibility with colleagues and students alike.
Still, many a subject can be studied from the comfort of one’s home or dormitory room, resulting in excellent papers and compelling novels. Anyone over the age of thirty knows this easy research wasn’t always available. As recently as 1999, when I was writing my master’s thesis on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, I didn’t have such an easy time of it. Scouring the card catalogues, viewing the new and incomplete computer files, and perusing the stacks at Rollins College (See a picture of Rollins campus above)), I couldn’t find everything I needed to know about both the author and the book. It took a spring break trip to snowy New Bedford and Nantucket, MA, to find everything I needed in the libraries and historical societies. I also found a key piece of information in the library of Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Not that I disliked traveling, mind you, but it was time-consuming and expensive when I needed to be doing some actual writing to complete my thesis on time.
Fast forward twenty years, and I can easily find all that I need to know online. Well, I do have a personal library of print books that help me along, but how much easier it is to “google” a topic and quickly find resources from credible sources. Sure does save time and money, and frees me up to write my books.
While the technology has been a boon to me as a writer, I still prefer to live in the past. What I mean by that tongue-in-cheek statement is that I love to write and read historical fiction. When planning my thesis, I asked my faculty advisor if I could write it as a novel rather than an academic paper. Dr. Cohen graciously permitted me to do so. Thus, Ahab’s Bride was born, a sequel to Melville’s Moby Dick. (These public domain pictures above inspired me as I wrote. At right is the cover for the first edition of Ahab’s Bride, published in 2004 by David C. Cook.)
Over the next month or so, every other Thursday, I will be writing about my journey to research and write this book. I hope you’ll stay tuned and enjoy taking the journey with me.