My first job post grad school was working as a research associate for Prevention magazine. I had some great mentors there—people who understood the value of digging deep to unearth valuable gems that you might use to enrich a story. The lessons stuck with me and became important as I wrote The Last Will of Moira Leahy.
I learned about Javanese mysticism and philosophy, and about the keris. I became fascinated with twin phenomena and lost languages and prodigies. I interviewed people to learn about Rome, Italy at Christmastime. I learned what I could about the mysterious Alvilda and survivor guilt and resident physicians. I traveled to Castine, Maine, and sat with the people there, asked about life by the sea, local customs, popular phrases, deep waters, weather and tourists. I learned what I could about sailing, and then I interviewed writer Robin Lanier, and she made suggestions as I drafted an important scene in the book.
I became inspired by poetry, like “What We Want,” by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening; and I became inspired by art, by the works of Noyes Capehart (Whisperer) and Francisco Goya (El sueno de la razon produce monstrous). I collected obscure but interesting words like oneiromancy and physis and leitmotif, though I used few of them in the actual story.
I could go on forever about the research involved in this book. Here are a few topics I thought you might enjoy reading more about:
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Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton are the founders and blog mamas of the popular writers’ blog, Writer Unboxed. Together with a panel of esteemed contributors—including Allison Winn Scotch, Juliet Marillier, Sophie Masson, Barbara Samuel (AKA Barbara O’Neal), Ann Aguirre, J.C. Hutchins, Anna Elliot, Jael McHenry, Jan O’Hara, Brunonia Barry, Debbie Ohi, agent Donald Maass, and editors Ray Rhamey and Jane Friedman—they post weekly about the craft and business of genre fiction. Writer Unboxed was named one of the best 101 websites for writers by Writer’s Digest in 2007, 2008, 2009, and again in 2010.
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