By: Molly Harper
So I spent six years as a newspaper reporter carefully researching articles. Switching to fiction about supernatural creatures involved less research and more “making stuff up.” But still, the compulsion to do background reading lives on.
Other than the fun sort of dysfunction, I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. There are some issues I just don’t have a lot of insight into, so I have to read about them. Non-fiction, particularly “self-help” non-fiction, really helps me get into a character’s head. For behavioral issues, for example, experts explain why the troublesome person behaves that way, how those behaviors manifest and how the put-upon person related to the problem personality should respond. It helps me put interactions and dialogue with my characters into perspective. It is also worth mentioning that my husband, David, and I share an e-reader account, so when I buy a book, it gets sent to his tablet, too.
This has created some awkward moments.
When I was writing RHTHYM AND BLUEGRASS, a book about a historian visiting a financially strapped rural town in an attempt to save an abandoned music hall, David asked, “Why is there a copy of BRIDGES OUT OF POVERTY on my Kindle?”
When I was writing HOW TO RUN WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF, which involves a woman trying to escape an abusive ex-husband, he asked, “Why is there a copy of MEN WHO HATE WOMEN AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE them on my Kindle?”
Also, my mom was deeply offended when she found copies of Susan Forward’s TOXIC PARENTS and TOXIC IN-LAWS at my house. She wasn’t sure whether I was reading them, or David, but either way, it hurt her feelings. (Forward’s books apply to the way I write a lot of my characters, sadly enough.)
Occasionally, I am tempted to buy some really weird titles just to throw David off of my trail, but I don’t want to worry him. The new purchase about mafia politics and intimidation tactics already has him on edge.
Bonnie Turkle, multimedia historian for the Kentucky Commission of Tourism, is dispatched to Mud Creek, a tiny eastern Kentucky town, with few prospects but many oddballs, to rescue important artifacts from McBride’s Music Hall. Now fallen beyond disrepair, McBride’s was once a jewel of the early American music scene, an intersection of the country-western and rhythm and blues circuits. The former owner’s grandson, Will McBride, who also happens to be Mud Creek’s esteemed mayor, would like nothing more than to see the place bull-dozed in favor of a factory that will provide much-needed jobs to his citizens. But Bonnie finds evidence of a legendary musical event at the music hall and her plans to turn it into a museum put Mud Creek’s economic future at risk – not to mention the growing flirtation between the two of them. If Will and Bonnie can’t find common ground, the town’s past and future will be lost.