by Jude Mason
Readers might thing writing erotica or romance is easy. Yup, just come up with a sexy afternoon where hubby and the wife sneak off to the bedroom for some fantasy horseplay (ahem!) and write it all down. Want something longer, easy-peasy, extend the session into a long weekend and voila, you have a novel!
If only it was that easy.
Hell, if it was that easy, anyone reading this, or anywhere in the country, could create their own book and then where would I be? Gasp!
When I really took up writing as a career, it was almost that easy for me. I concentrated my efforts around the area here and wrote about things I was at least familiar with. The stories were fun, the plots thin, and the readership next to zip. Oh, there were a few friends who were kind enough to read the short stories and who commented kindly, but no real readers.
First publisher cleared all that up for me, in one hell of a hurry. I needed a plot. I needed to get into my characters. I needed to travel and do things--or my characters did. Some of it was still something I found relatively easy. I've always been able to fall into my characters, but actually getting a plot moving took a little time. Deciding on what to do, well that took even more time.
First novel, a pony boy epic that I had to research. What the Hell! I adored the characters. I loved the plot. I was gah gah over the genre. But, what would a backwoods Canuck know about pony boy or the training of them, or the gear? Not much.
Online was the answer. I mean it's not a topic you can just bring up with the local Fish and Wildlife Association is it? We might have an equestrian club somewhere in the area, but I truly doubted if they'd be able to help me with this. I actually knew a lot about horses and tack, but converting it to people was a challenge. I also found out that the horse fetish seemed to lean more towards women being the animal, men being the trainer. WTF! Google it, you'll see.
I did luck out and found one couple who would actually discuss it with me. He was her horse, and very proud of himself for it. He was one hell of a brute, but from what his wife/trainer said, easy to handle. *G*
That might not be the kind of research most authors do, but it definitely worked for me and has worked for other books. Not so much digging for the written page, but finding people who are willing to share information.
Years after the pony boy book, I delved into the vampire genre. I wrote two books of a possible trilogy before the publisher folded. The first book took place in the US and was fairly easy to write. I did little research, but the way the book unfolded it wasn't necessary. The second book was a completely different story. I was urged to take my vamps to Britain. Now, I'm of Brit decent, but I've never actually been there, and the place I wanted to take my vamps to, well, it's not a place I'd have visited even if I had traveled there. Sigh.
Yes, I did some Googling. A lot of it. I also have a very good friend who lives fairly close to the place I'd chosen. Truth be told, it was his idea to take my vamps there. Whitby has a rich history of vampires and ghosts. It was the perfect place. An old Abbey, some very cool ruins and a graveyard that'd make the hair raise on the back of your neck and a dark and stormy night... oh my! It was perfect!
I had my friend visit Whitby with his camera twice. I had him and his wife traipsing up the 99 steps and visiting pubs, measuring how big things were, naming streets for me, you name it, I put the poor man through. It was GREAT! I also found a forum of ghost hunters in Whitby who were more than happy to help me if I needed it. I did. I wanted to have my vamps chase along the top of the cliffs and needed to know if it was possible. They were only too happy to help. Seems people love to help out a struggling author. *G*
The book came out and I was ecstatic. It did well, for the short time it was out. The publishing house folded and I was done.
The story here is, if the book you're working on, and it doesn't matter if you're writing fetish, kink, love stories or the greatest epic every told, if you don't know something, you'd better be prepared to find out about it. If you fake it, chances are you'll be fine, but there's always the chance a reader will call you on it. I've heard of that happening to some of the big romance writers. The smart ones admit they messed up and thank whoever confronted them. The ditzes puff out their chest's and refuse to admit they didn't do their research well enough.
More recently, Jenna Byrnes and I worked on a series of changeling books. Both of us were fairly familiar with some of the lore, but not all of it. Add that we used three, then four different animals, and we needed to cover our butts by knowing something about them. We also had to make sure the flora and fauna worked, we didn't use plants from two completely different areas, things like that. Untamed Hearts has been doing incredibly well, our wolves, bears and cougars have gotten rave reviews and so far, touching wood, we haven't been called on anything we included in the books. In fact, they've done so well, our publisher is afer us to add to the series and we're now working on Stallion's Pride.
In one of my upcoming releases, I decided to go native, literally. I took my modern day hunk and dropped him into the local area before the white man's arrival. The research for this was incredible and I found myself easily side tracked and found websites where the language was actually spoken. Course writing it was an interesting challenge, but it was fun too. LOL Finding Home, will come out later this year and I'm really looking forward to seeing if I did my homework well. It's gratifying when you know you did well.
So, for those of you who think romance or erotica author have it easy, think again. We do the same kind of research as any novelist, plus we have to be able to take the readers into the most intimate places with ease. Perhaps the next time someone asks me why I don't try writing something more serious, I'll simply ask them to write a pony boy story, or even a sensual spanking. What do you think? Could you do it?