Monday, 30 April 2018

The Write Stuff with... Carol Thomas

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Carol Thomas back to the blog to talk about The Wonderful World of Research. Her latest book The Purrfect Pet Sitter was published last week.

Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter! 

When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising! 

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is. 

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.   

There comes a point in every writer’s career where you have to head off in to the unknown, to move beyond your own experiences in the stories you tell and start on the wonderful world of research. While Google undoubtedly makes life much easier for writers to do this, there is a lot to be gained by actually getting out into the world and experiencing at least aspects of the lives your characters will lead.

Of course this is not always possible. I know one author who was recently trying to find out if a scythe would cut through bone and another who wanted to know if it was possible to kill her husband without leaving a trail of incriminating evidence. In instances such as these having a dodgy Google search history, or interviewing those in the know, is preferable to being sent on a writing retreat courtesy of HM Prison. 

As a writer of contemporary romance my own research is less macabre and yet I still find it fascinating. I love to learn new things and research is a journey of discovery. It leads from big picture moments, when scene setting; to scribbling little snippets about the minutia of life; to ensuring the reality you are dipping into as a writer, while creating the life of your character, is accurate and rings true to those who may share your character’s experiences.

A further bonus of doing research is getting to meet wonderful people along the way. In my experience, once you have been brave enough to confess what you are up to lurking around with a notebook, most people are keen to help.

For my new romantic comedy novel, The Purrfect Pet Sitter published by Ruby Fiction, my research journey took me from loitering in a surf shop and having a lengthy discussion about wetsuits; interviewing paramedics; poaching an entire conversation had by my daughter and her friends after a sex education lesson at school; going to our local bonfire procession (having not been for over ten years); to snow shoeing and wearing cross-country skies in the Alps. Notice, I didn’t actually say cross-country skiing in the Alps because I am not sure what I was doing could be classed as actually accomplishing the sport. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed every moment of it.

Further to this I got my Facebook followers involved. The gifts Lisa gives her friends and family, in The Purrfect Pet Sitter were all suggested by my followers, which is great! I loved getting their ideas and writing them into the book. It made me think beyond the ideas I had, and ensured the gifts in the book were ones readers could relate to giving.

Writing can be a solitary affair but the world of research gives the opportunity to reach out to others and it can be a whole lot of fun. Discover more about the sites and scenes that inspired The Purrfect Pet Sitter by visiting my Pinterest Board:

Twitter: @carol_thomas2
Facebook: Carol Thomas author
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  1. A writing retreat courtesy of HM Prison service - that's one I haven't tried - at least it would be all expenses paid. :)

  2. Thank you for having me on your blog, Sharon. Haha, Margaret, I’m pleased to say I haven’t tried that either. X