Adventures in Research

Hi everyone

Today, I’m very excited to have author Frances Housden visit.  Frances knows her stuff.  She’s a master (mistress?) at research which you know is that stuff sometimes we get enamored with and spend hours and hours doing, rather than the writing.  Or others of us absolutely hate!

Frances has written a great article on researching

Adventures in Research

By Frances Housden

 First let us address the ‘Write What You Know’ that is the war cry of certain teachers of the art. If I had obeyed that rule my books would have been about window-dressing and furniture making, not very exciting backgrounds for producing romantic suspense – not a lot of fun.

Then if we move on to what can be researched through Internet and libraries we’ll discover so many sources, especially on the Internet, the sheer scale of the information can bog us down. Books on the other hand can be more reliable since the publisher is expected to check on the information they put out there – though this still isn’t the adventure I promised in the title.

For me the adventure comes from going out there to discover the facts you’re after by yourself. I must admit that the first time I went out of my comfort zone to ask someone for information I was as nervous as hell. I soon discovered that most people – strangers – are willing to help as soon as they discover you’re a writer. My first venture was to a vineyard – there was so much to learn, but as we walked amongst the giant stainless steel vats I had this picture spring to mind of the vats on a winter’s night. Of scudding clouds playing hide and seek with the moon and the steel platforms high atop the vats pinging in the cold air, and a pale face looking down on the heroine out of the darkness. These are the light-bulb moments you don’t find in books, or on the Internet. For that same book I also visited Auckland Central police station and doll makers. Do that and you’ll find it’s the little things that add greater depth to our books.

I’ve been to stables that housed a Melbourne Cup winner – driven around the south island (of New Zealand) where I found a tiny book on the history of greenstone. Yet the information inside it was huge. I’ve gone to a boat builders, watched masses of videos about Everest. Written a book about the mountain with a map of it on my knee. I’ve toured Paris through the eyes of an Australian in her book ‘Almost French’. When I eventually visited that city there was so much I recognised from her description it was mind-blowing.

But mainly what I found while doing my research was fun. I’ve driven through France from the Pyrenees to Luxemburg – visited Brussels and the battlefield of Waterloo. As for Scotland, I’ve relied on memories of growing up with the history of that proud country and the visits I’ve made there since these memories are what I used to write THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE. Bald Internet facts are all well and good, but our readers deserve more than that. They deserve an adventure – so go out into the world and find one for both them and your hero and heroine. And whether it costs a lot or a little, make sure you have fun doing the research.

One last comment, how do you know if your research is successful? For me it was hearing from readers that it took a while to get up in the dark without thinking about that face in the winery. It’s having the post lady ask when you went to Everest and a RT review that thought the township in Love Under Fire was a lovely description of a typically New Zealand town when the restaurant/bar in the book came from one that I visited in Newport Rhode Island and the rest came from my imagination.

Frances Housden – The Chieftain’s Curse an iTunes and Amazon bestsellerchieftain-small

from Escape Publishing – Feb 2013




Thanks for Frances for visiting today.  And she’s right about asking people questions.  I was in regular email contact with the local president of our New Zealand Olive Growers Association who answered all my questions when I was writing Secrets and Seduction, then just recently stopped in at a local helicopter company when I needed answers.  The young and rather handsome pilot – in a uniform too – spent quite some time giving me all the info I needed so I could have my poor princess stranded up a mountain with a helicopter that wouldn’t work!

Happy reading everyone

Jane Beckenham

 Secrets and Seduction

Jane Beckenham

Samhain Publishing


He wants to hate her, but a little lust wouldn’t hurt…

The only emotion Leah Grainger musters when thinking of her dead husband is relief. Then she learns his gambling debt threatens her beloved olive farm and the child she must protect from the rootless existence she grew up with.

When her husband’s brother demands a meeting, the startlingly handsome, former oil rig wildcatter goes for the jugular, claiming legal guardianship of her daughter, has bought her mortgage…and he’s moving in.

Mac Grainger doesn’t trust Leah and will protect his niece, even if it means using his millions to gain the upper hand, and hardening his heart against the beautiful Leah’s protests of innocence.  Trouble is that forcers him to make a decision that exposes his most closely guarded possession – his heart.

Product Warnings

Contains tug-your-heart love, raise-the-roof lust, a marriage of convenience and hot sex that will give a whole new meaning to the word “wildcatter”.

Four Cup Review – Literary Nymphs
















  • Hi Frances & Jane! Great post. Great for someone like me who groans at the idea of research.

    February 28, 2013
  • Thanks for popping in Helen. I get what you mean, sometimes the research can be overwhelming. I remember studying info on Henry 8th, the political intrigue nearly sent me to looney bin! So complicated


    February 28, 2013
  • Amanda

    We often hear the advice “write about what you know”. Research is an important part of any story set outside your regular comfort zone. So great post, Jane and Frances, and all the best for your new books. 🙂

    February 28, 2013
  • Jane Beckenham

    THought i posted a reply to you Amanda – but it’s somewhere in cyber space! Thanks for popping in. Research can be addictive, i’ve heard of people researching so much they don’t write the story, and then there’s the dreaded info dump when we load up a story with too much research info!

    February 28, 2013
  • Great post Jane and Frances. Isn’t it fantastic when you can do your research while travelling. Such fun. I recently had a chat with a detective I met at an engagement party last weekend. He was happy to answer my procedural questions. Says he usually bores everyone if he talks about work. Not me! Congratulations on The Chieftans Curse, Frances, it’s been going gangbusters on Amazon.

    Lee Christine

    February 28, 2013
    • Jane Beckenham

      Lee, lovely of you to stop by. Did you have to ask the detective any gory questions. A friend is writing a serial killer type book and it’s prett blood thirsty at times. But she has all the ikky bits down pat. All that research! I keep telling her i don’t want to meet her on a dark alley


      February 28, 2013

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