When I decided to take a break from writing fantasy and write some more contemporary romance I had the mistaken belief that at least I wouldn’t have to do so much research with a contemporary story. Well needless to say, I learnt very quickly how wrong I was! There’s probably more research I have to do for contemporary romance because you can bet there will be a reader out there who will know more about the topic than I do. At least with fantasy I can make stuff up!
For All that Sparkles there were quite a few things I had to research. First, it is set in Houston, Texas, a city I’ve never been to. In actual fact, I’ve never been to the United States of America (though it is on my ‘to visit’ list). So there was a lot I needed to know. I checked out real estate sites so I could choose locations and houses for my characters, I read local newspapers and looked at statistics regarding jobs, ethnicities and all sorts of things. I’m also fortunate to have a friend living in Houston and she introduced me to the West Houston Romance Writers of America chapter which I promptly joined. This group has been incredibly helpful answering a myriad of questions from what do you call a tea towel (dish cloth), to suggesting suburbs and locations for settings.
Then of course there was the fashion industry. I’ll be the first to admit my fashion sense leaves a lot to be desired. I know next to nothing about it and so I had to learn quickly. I did my usual google search and found some great websites about the fashion industry and about sweat shops in Asia. Originally I thought I might explore this a bit further, but the story didn’t end up going that way. You might notice that Christian makes a negative comment to Imogen about manufacturing her new label in Asia and taken advantage of people, but that’s as far as that bit of research went.
I was thrilled to discover a book called, “The Fashion Designer Survival Guide: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business” by Mary Gehlhar. It sounded perfect to give me the details I needed for Imogen to start her own label. I bought it immediately, read through and found pretty much everything I needed to know about getting in to the fashion industry. Thank you, Mary!
I also needed to know a little bit about commercial law and a few French words which another friend helped me with. She’s a lawyer and native French-speaker in one so that was a bonus!
Finally, much of the renovation information came from personal experience, though I wish I’d had as much help as Imogen had! 🙂
I’ve come to really enjoy researching my contemporary romances and I’m learning some fascinating things. Not all of what I learn makes it into the book, but that doesn’t mean it might not come in handy for another book in the future.