A week or so ago, I mentioned trying to research using Google Maps—a fun and somewhat helpful method of seeing my setting without actually being there. But as several of you responded, you prefer the “in person” method of doing research. Today I took your advice, and with a notebook and camera, went for a drive.
First stop: Downtown Tulsa where I went to the Jazz Hall of Fame. It’s in the Old Union Depot, a magnificent Art Deco building with gracefully curved arches and original Native American artwork painted on the walls and ceiling. There I met two lovely, sweet women who gave me a packet of information and invited me to a special concert in the music hall this Saturday—a tribute to one of Tulsa’s jazz icons. One of the two women I met is his daughter, and she shared with me some memories of being part of the jazz scene in Tulsa and about the way the neighborhoods used to be. Priceless information that has given me a much better feel for this aspect of my new novel. And I’m looking forward to the concert on Saturday.
Art Deco buildings are some of the treasures of our downtown, so I took a winding drive going to my next destination—a neighborhood with a small lake surrounded by a walking path. As the sun warmed my back, I meandered down the path and clicked away with my camera to get the details I need for my story. A woman walking her Airedale (named Teddy Roosevelt) struck up a conversation with me, so we chatted, sharing what we did. I explained that I was a writer and answered her questions about what my novels were about.
Here’s what occurred to me: We learn to “pitch” our stories at conferences to agents and editors thinking that is the only goal, but we can use that same technique to sell our story ideas to potential readers (providing we become published), so they say, “What was your name again? Where can I get a copy of your novel?”
Okay, so that’s a little dream scenario, and perhaps the unseasonably warm day made me a little giddy, but the nice lady with Teddy Roosevelt gave me her address and phone number and offered to help me with any questions I had about the area I was researching. Two lovely surprises in one day.
I came home excited, refreshed, and ready to layer in the textures my novel needs--the precise details provided by “being there” in person.
Have you had any unexpected blessings come when you are doing research? For those of you who don’t write but are faithful to read my blog (bless your hearts!), what kind of surprise encounters have you had lately? Anything fun or intriguing going on in your lives? As always, I’m curious and invite you to share your comments.
CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.
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