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!