Writers are undoubtedly jacks of all trades. Some have a more narrow focus either with specific genres or particular fields of study that they use for their work while others like myself must learn as much as possible about anything and everything as the need arises. Being an author is sort of like going back to school but you only need to learn about the subjects that interest you at the moment.
When I began working on my book Sharing Strength which is finally nearing completion after more than two years I realized there were several things I would need to learn more about. One of the main ones was the overall theme of the book Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It may sound strange to those that have read some of my previous posts and know I was diagnosed with PTSD over ten years ago. The problem I encountered is that I have a number of characters and they all different reasons for being in the support group. I had to find out more about what could cause each of their reactions as well as how they may deal with the symptoms.
That research alone was difficult because I was able to see myself in a number of them. I had a few issues when I was first diagnosed and it took several sessions with a good therapist for me to even be able to work on writing the story and then medication to write Survivor which is my own personal story, fictionalized of course. When it came to Jasmine, the main character of Survivor as well as one of the main characters for Sharing Strength I had even more to learn about. She is an amateur photographer. I knew nothing about photography.
I only needed a small amount of information which helped when working on such a painful story. Now I am researching much more in-depth stories. One book involves the famed serial killer Jack The Ripper so I need to know the area of London as it stood during that time as well as speech patterns, society demographics and victim information. For my Syn series I must be intimately aware of Victorian America to truly capture the setting during the Salem Witch Trials. I have two books set in the 1800s in Pioche, NV and will not only be reading about but will be traveling to the city in order to get a feel for my characters and the place they lived. I have so many books I am researching but I must remember that in order to do them justice I cannot simply gather all the information at once then try to remember what goes where. I am instead outlining the plots and making research lists then as I come to each project in turn I will be focusing on the information needed so I can readily apply it.