Day 10 of the Author Blog Challenge: What was your research process?
More than likely, even the most prosaic of fiction books will require at least a modicum of research. Historical fiction probably requires scads of investigation.
Sailing into “Cocos Island Treasure,” the first manuscript chosen for publication, I spent a LOT of time researching the internet, first discovering there really was such a place!
The journey has been fascinating because unfortunately he passed away before I could ever pick his brain about his youth; his sailing adventures, his mining or exploration adventures, or his actual birth location for that matter.
I would have benefited hearing about all these exciting tropical locales wherein he apparently enjoyed some pearl diving as well as hunting for pirate treasures. As I recently posted regarding pirate treasures on Cocos Island, William Thompson purportedly loaded one of the largest pirate treasure troves aboard the Mary Dear in Peru in 1820. He and his crew killed the Spanish guards and buried the treasure said to be worth well over $160,000,000 (now known as “The Loot of Lima”).
Each book after that, because they are classified as historical fiction, mandated many, many hours of research, either because of the location of adventures, the names contained in the plots, or the procedures or practices of his day–especially with his narration of the capture and rendering of whales.
Probably the most time spent researching was the fourth book, “Hot Air Promotions,” which involved the penny mining stocks of the twenties and thirties. It was HUGE! The language of the stock market, the mines, the business practices and papers, and the people–how could you ever win? And I quote, “When you win, you lose.”
The most fun, however, in the examination of the chronicles of the mines was chasing down the locations–many now ghost towns–some still thriving with history reading stranger than fiction. You can’t make this stuff up! I discovered that the University of Nevada, Reno, maintains a massive library containing the history of gold, silver, and mineral mines of the west–where they gladly accepted a copy of the book. Goldfield, (NV) a former mining town, enjoys many a chilling ghost story that contains notorious names included in the book as well.
The odyssey has been a lesson in history: Of places, people, and practices. As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”