Let’s Talk with Tina Whittle

The Joys of Research

by Tina Whittle

One of the most famous pieces of writerly advice goes something like this: write what you know. So I decided to write about a woman who owns a gun shop catering to Confederate reenactors. Then I added a co-protagonist, her partner in crime and romance, a former SWAT sniper turned corporate security agent who drives a Ferrari.

I know nothing about any of these things. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Therefore, I spend a lot of my time in research. Just recently that meant learning about high end whiskey and bartending grifts (for “Liquor, Larceny, and the Ordinal Classification of Courtship Rituals”), less-then-lethal use of force and the dietary preferences of donkeys (for the upcoming Necessary Ends), and best practices during a bank robbery (for my as-yet-unnamed work in progress).

Research is a rabbit hole for me. I find so many fascinating tidbits that I must watch myself or I’ll waste hours happily wandering in Trivia Land. And of course I immediately want to use all of these bits in a story or novel. Also impossible.

So here are a couple of fascinating trivia bits that I’ve learned over the past few weeks (none of which are scheduled to be in a book, alas, but who knows? Maybe one day!):

• Deep in the heart of Amish country, there is a design studio that builds live stage sets for U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.

• The Library of Congress keeps an archive of every single tweet ever tweeted.

• Human infants develop cooperative communication skills more like dogs do than chimpanzees.

• A man was recently convicted of murder partly on the evidence provided by his victim’s Fitbit.

What fascinating thing have you learned recently? Share in the comments for a chance to win a pre-release Kindle copy of Necessary Ends, coming in April!

While you’re at Booklover’s Bench, visit our contest page for a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy tablet! The contest runs from Feb 1-18 — click here to enter!

Comments

  1. Your trivia facts are very interesting! I’m learning about olive growing for my latest wip. As an olive fan, I find this to be quite fascinating, like what’s the difference between green and black olives.

    • tinawhittle says:

      Full confession: I find this fascinating. I’ve seen classes where one could learn the tasting notes of olive oil the same way one tastes wine.

  2. A long time ago, I learned (thanks to a crit partner, not research, though) that not all cars come with a choice of standard or manual transmission. I had not clue, and gave my character the wrong kind of vehicle for what I needed.

    In another ‘found it while looking for something else’ I discovered a premise for Dangerous Connections that turned the whole story around.

    • tinawhittle says:

      I gave my character’s Ferrari the wrong kind of gear shift until i visited the Ferrari store and changed it. And then I learned that for his particular car, many American versions contained my “incorrect” version. So back I went to the dealership. Any excuse to sit in a Ferrari.

  3. I’m not the Research Queen that Tina is, so my story is personal. I like what I like and that’s final when it comes to food. Oh, how I have eaten those words! Our latest diet calls for green smoothies for breakfast. I guess people at diet central realized no one has time to make a salad in the morning. I was going to pass on this diet altogether until I tried the smoothie. It was still very GREEN but if you didn’t think about the color, it was okay. So I drank it. Second day, it tasted a little better. By the third day, I was ready for it, and I discovered I LIKE green things to drink first thing in the morning. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

    • tinawhittle says:

      You lost me at “green smoothie.” I love greens braised and sauteed and boiled and steamed and raw, but liquified? You are a braver woman than I.