I was thinking about what to blog about when I was struck by the concept of imagination.
I have 3 full-length novels published. The first one is set on a ranch in Montana, the next two in Scotland. I’ve written other books set in South Dakota, Ireland, Northern Labrador, NYC, and England. Sometimes I use locations or jobs I’m familiar with but no matter how familiar I am with one aspect of a book there are still myriad details to research.
So I research like crazy, everything from location details to historical fact, witchcraft, psychic powers, police procedures, medical conditions, flying helicopters, and the psychology of everything from serial killers to phobias to growing up without a father. The first story I ever wrote was called Her Sanctuary and is published by The Wild Rose Press. I love this story, but at the time I wrote it there was no information on how the FBI dealt with art fraud so I made it up—I had to. But after Her Sanctuary was published there was a whole TV series on how the FBI dealt with art fraud and counterfeits. I was so mad. :) I’m still mad because I hate getting facts wrong, and yet it is impossible to know everything about everything. And although there is such thing as poetic licence, I’ve noticed that nowadays people like much more fact with their fiction.
Sea of Suspicion (Carina Press) I contacted a Fife police officer and swung a tour of the St. Andrews’s Police Station. I’d lived in the town for years but never had reason to visit the local nick. I set the story in the Marine Lab where I’d done my graduate studies so there was no need to do endless research on the location—it’s in my bones :). But I didn’t know anything about octopods (the heroine’s area of expertise) and found myself immersed in research on a subject that probably only takes up a few sentences in the book. I now know a lot about octopods.
Storm Warning (Carina Press) is also set in Fife, although down the coast in a town called Anstruther where I lived for 6 wonderful years. But although I knew the area, I still had to spend a solid week reading books about psychics. I
Research and Imagination go hand-in-hand when creating a story. I like to think of the research as the structure and the imagination as the flow of a story. I’m about to dive into another story and hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
So my question to you is how important is it to get the facts right in fiction?
Toni Anderson is a former Marine Biologist whose first Romantic Suspense novel, Her Sanctuary, was released in 2009, and her Scottish novels Sea of Suspicion & Storm Warning are available from Carina Press. She writes about her life and travels on her blog, Facebook and Twitter. Readers can sign up for her occasional newsletter and check up on her latest releases on her website and Facebook Fan Page.