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!
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Posted in Let's Talk, with Tina Whittle, zed: Former Authors • Tags: BLB Discussion, Let's Talk, research, Tina Whittle | 6 Comments
6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk with Tina Whittle”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.