1. Jane, the depth of your research is amazing. Do you go through a particular process before starting a novel? Can you give us some tips on effective research?
I've always been caught up with the details of history, which is why I peruse antique stores, museums, and watch Antique's Road Show with a note pad in hand. On any given day, I ask myself how my character might have dealt with a grumpy store clerk or a bad tooth or a broken arm fifty miles from the nearest doctor.
Because most of my characters are based on real people, I create a timeline usually beginning with their birth, where they were, who the family consisted of at that point, etc. As I track family tree material, I'm also looking at current events at the same time and asking myself what the family would have known of the beginning of the War of 1812 or when news of Lincoln's assassination might have reached them in far away Oregon Territory. I read what others might have written about the character or the event (as in the Oregon Trail disaster of 1852 that I wrote of in the Kinship and Courage Series), and read books like "The History of the Cholera Epidemic." I make a note of particular events that seem intriguing to me with where I learned about it (museum notes, a book, etc.) and a reference right on the timeline, so I can go back and find it later for more detail.
Photographs are very important in my research. I Google, "Penny Postcards" and then enter the county I'm looking for and find a range of picture postcards during the early 20th century when they were popular. My latest novel, "A Flickering Light," is about my grandmother, an early photographer in Minnesota. I located a postcard picture of the "Northwest Stammers School" in Milwaukee, which played into the storyline as her younger brother stammered as a result of an accident that my grandmother felt some guilt about. She was in Milwaukee running a photographic studio in 1911, so the school played into the storyline. I would not have known about it without seeking out photographs of the region and period.
Due to the vast amount of material Jane provided, we'll continue this interview on Friday in place of the Friday Round-Up.
That's very interesting about the postcards! And also the stammering school. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Jess -
Jane gave a lot of detailed tips on research. I appreciated her willingness to share her process.
Love the research info, thanks for sharing! Blessings:)
Sounds like an amazing amount of research. So interesting. Thanks for sharing more of the interview!
I love the idea about the "Penny Postcards." I can use that source in one of my stories set earlier in the 20th century.
Hi Nancy -
I'm so glad you found something useful to your own research.
Have a great day!
Hi Karen -
Thanks for commenting. Jane's generosity awed me. This interview was like a mini-workshop.
Hi Cindy -
After reading one of Jane's books, I promptly ordered another. She created a story world you could not only believe, but enter.
I'm with you, Jessica. I love the postcard idea! I'm always looking for visuals to coincide with what I'm writing.
I like Jane's shoes.
Hi Rita -
Jane was actually speaking at a small writers' group in that picture. The shoes do look comfortable. :)
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