Saturday, 2 May 2009

Research? Granted! - Joan Lennon

I have trouble with guilt.* For example, did I really need to go down to London to tie up the final details for the first book in my Victorian detective series, "The Slightly Foxed Mysteries"? This one's called "Slightly Foxed and the Case of the London Dragonfish" in which a priceless fossil is stolen from the Natural History Museum in London, and it is up to the eponymous heroine (aided by her trusty sidekick, Granny Tonic) to recover the goods and pretty much save the day. And, yes, I got most of the historical stuff I needed from books and the internet. Did I really really NEED to go to the actual places in the actual city for the final touches?

YES (I think). If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known exactly which Slightly's favourite terracotta decorations at the NHM were (the kangaroo over the door and the bat-eared foxes by the main stairs, if you were wondering) - or whether or not All Souls' Church was really the ugliest church in London or just the strangest - or just what the bell of St Paul's Cathedral sounds like. I CERTAINLY wouldn't have got to see what the original architect's plans for the Old Spirit Building looked like, or just how gorgeous the handwriting in the Museum Trustees' minutes was. (Courtesy of the Archives at the NHM - what a great morning I had there!) Even though I had SO MUCH FUN, maybe it's okay and still counts as serious, arduous research. It wouldn't have been just the same book without the trip - so doesn't that mean it was worth it?

YES. Sigh. I think.

(*One of the troubles I have with guilt is that I ALWAYS try to spell it with a Q, which suggests I don't take it all that seriously. Not that quilts aren't serious ... oh, there, now I feel guilty because I've insulted quiltmakers ...)


AnneR said...

OF COURSE that was a valid research trip, Joan! I am greatly in favour of making as many research trips as possible, and could never understand why Meg Rossof chose to set a book in Luton (who wants to go there?) - unless it being in the airport meant she could claim lots of trips abroad to get her stint in the departure lounge, in which cast it was masterful. I don't think you have anything at all to feel guilty about and, on the contrary should have felt guilty (or quilty) if you hadn't checked

Frankie Anon said...

Hello Joan, and all the other bloggers at this wonderful, fun, informative site. I discovered you through Lucy Coats. I have nominated you for an award; should you wish to accept it, visit my blog for more info. (I won't be hurt if awards are not your thing.)

P.S. I love the Q idea! That makes guilt into something warm and comfy!