I’m delighted to be welcoming back lovely Jan Brigden, author of As Weekends Go to Linda’s Book Bag. I have previously interviewed Jan and you can read that interview here. As Weekends Go was published by Choc Lit on 4th December 2015. As Weekends Go is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US and by following the publisher links here.
As an aspiring romantic writer myself, I’m delighted that Jan has agreed to write a guest post all about her research process today.
As Weekends Go
What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?
When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.
She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …
But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?
Football Stadiums and Grand Hotels:
The perks of doing your research as a writer
A Guest Post by Jan Brigden
I had to do plenty of research for As Weekends Go and thoroughly enjoyed it. Almost everyone I approached was kind and helpful, especially when I explained that I was writing a novel and wanted clarification of certain aspects, whether it be about places, procedures, customs, etc.
Take York, for instance, a city that features heavily in the book. Yes, I’d visited with my husband for a few days, but that was for leisure. Once I knew I wanted Rebecca and Abi (my two lead female characters) to spend their fictional weekend there, I accepted that my array of photos and memories wouldn’t suffice. I’d need to return, several times, notebook and pen poised, to carry out some proper investigating. Not just the touristy bits, but the nitty gritty of everyday life … opening and closing times (no, not just the pubs!) where the supermarkets were, the climate, local newspapers, house prices, etc, etc. During my three return visits I filled two big notepads with precious snippets of advice and information from residents and businesses, knowing that when I read it all through on the train on the way back to London, I’d feel confident that anything I subsequently wrote for the novel would be as authentic as possible.
Similarly, with Alex – my male lead – being a footballer, I needed to check certain facts about his profession. Having met one or two players over the years, and also coming from a footie-mad family, I already had a good knowledge of the game. I’d made loads of notes from the internet, watched lots of TV footage, read the odd autobiography, but again, it was a contact at my local football club who validated everything for me. I also received a fab tour of the stadium in the process. If I only used a quarter of the stuff I’d learned, both in York and about football, I could be sure it was genuine.
One of my most enjoyable and invaluable book research experiences, was when I met with the duty manager of a country hotel not far from where I live, upon which I loosely based Hawksley Manor – my fictional hotel in York. It was a roasting hot day and I must have asked the poor man thirty questions, all of which he answered with a smile. Yet it was the guided walkabout and being shown the different rooms, seeing the various menus, learning the staff and management structure, who did which shift, seeing the spa facilities up close, all the products that were ordered in, and when, that gave me that confidence buzz again. Whatever I wrote about, I’d either have seen or heard first hand.
Of course, there will always be things that prove trickier to verify, the odd person who may be reluctant to divulge information, or that one sentence you’ve written that leaves a question in the reader’s mind. I’d hate to take the fun out of fiction altogether – after all, imagination is a wonderful tool – but when writing about real places or professions or sets of rules and regulations, I can definitely recommend doing your research.
About Jan Brigden