Elizabeth Naranjo
Elizabeth Naranjo asked Carrie Ann Lahain:

Hi Carrie Ann, I've read both of your novels (Knife Skills and The Ways of Mud and Bone), and it's obvious you care about getting the details right. My question is: how do you know when you've done enough research to make the story feel authentic?

Carrie Ann Lahain Hi, Elizabeth,

Research is tricky. It's so easy to get so caught up with it that you never quite begin the actual writing. I usually read one or two general books about the topic--say on America in WW I or running a restaurant. Then I start writing my novel and see where I need authentic detail. This makes it easier to focus my research time on specific questions. Also, I make sure that I take a look at first person accounts--diaries or memoirs--of REAL people involved in the era or occupation I'm writing about. Their anecdotes and experiences help me think up ideas for my own characters. For example, while writing THE WAYS OF MUD AND BONE, I read a lot of memoirs published in the 1920s by former nurses who'd served in France during WW I. And I had my own journals from my time in cooking school to use when writing KNIFE SKILLS. The great thing about research is that you always end up with too much of it. Which means there's plenty of great information left over for essays or short stories. That's a lot of bang for your research time!

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