If you are under the impression that writing science fiction removes the need to do research, you would be wrong. It isn't just a matter of creating new worlds and technology as there must be logic and science within the confines of the tale.

My two published novels happen to be science fiction, but there are located in the United States during a violent time of our history. Two different beings from different planets are trapped here. Both of them have added their genes to ours. Both want to leave. Only one has the spaceship, but he lacks the knowledge. The two aliens are enemies and neither will compromise.

I've always been an avid history reader and felt it would be no problem to write a factual background. How wrong can a person be?

Every date had to be checked. Small things like the invention of screens, the threshing machine (would you believe 1846), bag balm, linoleum, stagecoach routes, the start of a seminary, and even the staffing of forts in the Texas frontier.

Two of the above mentioned items had to be edited out of the stories. The third one that is nearing completion is Earthbound.

To find the answers to all of the above, I used my history books and the online resources. The searches became fascinating journeys into our history. One I just found today. By the 1840s, apple jack was no longer the main choice of beverages in a bar. Rum, whiskey, and beer were replacing a mainstay of American drinking habits.

For my short stories I've read the published accounts of experiments with transferring physical objects to a different location, harmonics, medical procedures, and energy production with solar, fuel cells, and the production of plastics.

The research became a fascinating read. One that I enjoyed as much as reading a novel.

I'll admit that history and archaeology are my favorite nonfiction reads. What is your choice?
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Published on October 05, 2012 11:03 • 420 views • Tags: history, reads, research
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message 1: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Hinkinson Much the same, funnily enough. I love reading about the Victorian and Elizabethan eras. I have a superb 'biography' as the author describes it, of London, with all its history not only in buildings and people but sights and sounds and smells. The follow-up, all about the River Thames from its days as a stream in a swamp to the present, is simply magical to read. I also love to read about the Celts, the Druids and that time in British history that so little is known about, thanks to the Romans destroying so much. x


message 2: by Alan (new)

Alan Place I know what you mean, writing Pat Canella, I had to research US history of the 1940s to to get the right feel for the story. It is so easy to assume that something came from an era.


message 3: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Adams I remember reading, somewhere, that it is even a good idea to check out the general climate in the place and time you are writing! This is great Mari!


message 4: by Mari (new)

Mari Andrew wrote: "Much the same, funnily enough. I love reading about the Victorian and Elizabethan eras. I have a superb 'biography' as the author describes it, of London, with all its history not only in buildings..."

I'm so in agreement. I love to read about those eras also, Andrew. Right now I'm reading The Welsh Kings. That, of course, was after the Romans left.


message 5: by Mari (new)

Mari Alan wrote: "I know what you mean, writing Pat Canella, I had to research US history of the 1940s to to get the right feel for the story. It is so easy to assume that something came from an era."

You are so right, Alan. Even the songs might have been released a year after your time frame.


message 6: by Mari (new)

Mari Victoria wrote: "I remember reading, somewhere, that it is even a good idea to check out the general climate in the place and time you are writing! This is great Mari!"

You're not going to believe this, but I did that too for Before We Leave. I had to make sure the blizzard of 1889 hit Missouri too.


message 7: by William (new)

William I followed some of the same threads doing the research for my book, Mari. Though it's set current day, archaeology and history play a big part in the setting of the events of the novel. It does require a tremendous amount of research.


message 8: by Yezall (new)

Yezall Strongheart My last two books are in the Sci Fi genre. I did a bunch of research! It still has to make sense. It's true that some of the future devices or events you can make up, but especially with the devices it has to be familiar to the reader in some way so you try to liken it to something they know. Yet it has to be "one step further", you still have to base it on truth.You can't talk about the wind blowing your hair in space...


message 9: by Alberta (new)

Alberta Ross same - only I'm writing in the future but I still have to research the events leading up to what i write about and because civilations crash I research ancient ones to get a feel for what might happen - but it is fun fun fun and so interesting


message 10: by Alan (new)

Alan Place One of the main fall down areas is attitudes, we have to remember what things were were like. I had a friend whose books on early Greece were pulled up for being homosexual but back then it was natural if not prevelant.


message 11: by Brian (new)

Brian Bigelow I love reading history and archaeology. You're correct on research that it needs to be done properly for anything historical. Even sometimes for things set in the present day I'll look up places in Tripadvisor.


message 12: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Arkon I love the Byzantine era. But I've done research on guns and semis. One can google just about anything. For my next novel, I'll be researching info on morgues, the Port Manatee Jail, cigars, and different drugs.

Being a writer is very interesting, indeed. I'm never bored.


message 13: by Mari (new)

Mari Robynn wrote: "Excellent article! When I decided to write a contemporary romance in the state I lived in I thought that would be easy and research free as well. I was soooo wrong! Had to check into cattle process..."

LOL Robin, I didn't even get into the land rights in Texas. That don't have huge national parks taking up their land like other states. They insisted they retain all land and land grants when they joined the Union.


message 14: by Mari (new)

Mari William wrote: "I followed some of the same threads doing the research for my book, Mari. Though it's set current day, archaeology and history play a big part in the setting of the events of the novel. It does req..."

Researching those two subjects can be a big issue when experts disagree.


message 15: by Mari (new)

Mari Alberta wrote: "same - only I'm writing in the future but I still have to research the events leading up to what i write about and because civilations crash I research ancient ones to get a feel for what might hap..."

Yes, Alberta, it is fun and sometimes very distracting.


message 16: by Eve (new)

Eve Gaal I had to study some archaeology too because of my use of rocks, volcanoes and petroglyphs in my manuscript that takes place in Hawaii.


message 17: by Mari (new)

Mari The Desert Rocks wrote: "I had to study some archaeology too because of my use of rocks, volcanoes and petroglyphs in my manuscript that takes place in Hawaii."

Hawaii is a long way from the desert. Our studies make us a well educated group.


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