DOING RESEARCH FOR BOOKS by M.E. Roche
Research in writing, or so I’d guess, is little different from research in any other occupation. As a nurse, learning about a new diagnosis, a new med, or a new treatment requires spending some time reading and talking with other, more knowledgeable people. In my first three young adult novels, there wasn’t much research involved as Nora Brady—my main character—was a student nurse; I knew everything about that, didn’t I? When I wanted her to move into law enforcement, however—something about which I knew next to nothing—I knew I’d have to talk to the experts there, so I reached out to my local sheriff’s department.
The sheriff’s department was more than accommodating. I was able to interview the officers in charge, take a tour of the offices, and schedule a ride-along. I was also lucky enough to be living in one of the only counties in California—probably in the country—where the coroner’s department utilized volunteers, and their staff was part of the sheriff’s department. I wanted the experience of assisting with autopsies, but more than that, I wanted the story behind an autopsy.
While Nora Brady moved on to become a detective with the sheriff’s department, she continued to work as a per diem nurse at the local hospital. That didn’t require much research, but when I started writing my first standalone novel, BIGAMY, real research was involved. Set in the 1930s, it was based on an actual case in a state about which I knew little. (Newspapers.com subscription). There were little things like fixing peanut butter sandwiches on Wonder Bread. Did they have peanut butter and Wonder Bread in the 1930s? One character goes to jail and then to prison. What was the difference? What was it like? And last year, I took a road trip to Nebraska to begin researching the life of my great-aunt who came from Ireland (Ancestry.com subscription), worked as a servant in Chicago, and married a homesteader from Nebraska in 1918—a time of war, influenza, and the Dust Bowl.
For my recently released novel ONCOLOGY, I researched work being done with phytoplankton—a marine lifeform that sustains much of marine life and has the potential as a future food source for man. In this novel, Nora Brady leaves her position as a detective with the sheriff’s department following a personal tragedy. As a registered nurse, she takes a job in the hospital’s oncology clinic. When it’s discovered that a recently treated patient dies while on a cruise, and an autopsy shows no evidence of his having ever had cancer, Nora and her team are left to wonder if he was the only victim.
|M. E. Roche|
YA Novels: Nora Brady, Student Nurse Mysteries (3)
Adult Novels: The Nora Brady Mysteries (3)
Stand Alone Novel: BIGAMY