Tag Archives: research

Sidetracked by Track Changes

Like Katie, I also turned in my final manuscript to my editor recently. But unlike Katie’s novel, my picture book manuscript has far fewer words. Like, almost a couple of orders of magnitude fewer. Including the back matter, my book will have about one thousand words. (And that’s considered L-O-N-G for a picture book these days.) So editing it should be a piece of cake, right? There are only a limited number of times you can read a thousand fairly simple words, right?

Nope. No cake. No limit.



Even though my editor had relatively few comments (yay!), revising the manuscript took a lot longer than I anticipated. It was also much more interesting than I expected. From the first round of edits to the (hopefully) last, we were having a dialogue through Track Changes. Our comment-bubble conversation led me down side roads, some I had already traveled, most I had not.


Side roads? Oh, yeah!








THE NIAN MONSTER is a Chinese New Year story, a folktale retelling, a trickster tale, and a foodie story. It’s also set in Shanghai. One editorial comment, asking about whether the word “chef” would be used in China, took me down a historical path. I ended up writing a long-winded, horribly didactic, reply-comment-bubble about Shanghai’s history as an international port, the French Concession, and whatever other justification I could come up with. When my editor commented back, “Fascinating,” my inner geek did a little jig of joy. Or maybe just arched an eyebrow. (Note: I got to keep the word “chef.”)



Addressing another comment sent me back to grammar school — Chinese vs. English grammar, that is. The comment was about using the word “the” in front of names of landmarks. We don’t say “the Times Square,” but is it appropriate to say “the People’s Square?” How do English-speakers in China refer to these places? I didn’t know how to respond to this. The little Chinese I know, I absorbed from listening to my parents and suffering through Sunday Chinese School. I knew when something sounded right in Chinese, but I could never explain why. It turns out that there is no equivalent of “the” in Chinese — it’s a language without a definite article. That answer allowed me to choose where to keep and where to delete the “the’s.”


Keep this one?


Or this one?


Or this one?


I did more research and thought harder about my story during the editing process than I had when writing it. None of the history or the grammar I learned will make it into the book. But I don’t regret any of it. More knowledge is never a waste, right? And I love that when I read the text, I see the fingerprints of my mentors, my critique partners, and now my editor. I hope that kids will come up with their own questions after reading the book. Or maybe even the same questions. I know they’re just dying to learn about the French Concession.


I’ll have a cafe au lait, please!

Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, The Nian Monster, is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. The Nian Monster will be published by Albert Whitman & Co. in December 2016. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market.

Andrea spent most of her first grade year reading under the teacher’s desk, barricaded by tall stacks of books. At home, she dragged books, chocolate chips, and the cat into her closet to read. Not much has changed since then, except now she reads and writes sitting in a comfy chair in a sunny room. With a lock on the door. Before embarking on the writer’s journey, Andrea was an environmental consultant, helping to clean up hazardous waste sites. She lives in a wooded suburb of Boston with her very understanding husband, two inspiring sons, and a plump dumpling of a rescue dog.

You can find Andrea online at http://www.andreaywang.com and on Twitter under @AndreaYWang.


Filed under Editing and Revising, Editor, Picture books, Research, Uncategorized

The Perks of Research


Today—maybe even at this very moment that you are reading this—I’m experiencing an exciting first: My first post-book-deal school visit.

The visit came about in an unusual way, which is probably often the case for an author who still has another year to go before her book is out. My novel is set in San Francisco, and bits of it take place in a contemporary middle school. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have lived most of my life there, including in the city itself. But I went to a suburban middle school about a half hour outside the city, not to mention, it was snarfmumblehum years ago that I was in middle school, and so I don’t exactly feel like an expert on the contemporary San Francisco middle school setting.

I don’t need to be an expert to write the school scenes in my book. They are generic enough that I could imagine my way through them, and the story would probably be fine. Doing my research about contemporary San Francisco middle schools has helped me, not only get ideas, but feel confident about what I’m writing. Having the opportunity to experience at least one school firsthand will help me be a better sensory writer, and will help ensure I don’t get things way wrong.

I reached out to a Language Arts teacher at a school that is in the general vicinity of my fictitious middle school, and asked if I would be able to tour her school and/or talk with her or some students. Not only did the teacher respond warmly and enthusiastically, but, as luck would have it, they were having professionals come in to talk about their careers and didn’t have anyone scheduled to speak in the Language Arts arena. So I agreed to talk about being a writer, and in turn I’ll get to hang out with a bunch of middle schoolers and observe their world. I know there are people out there who would be terrified of voluntarily spending their day with middle schoolers, but I’m super excited. (Okay, maybe slightly terrified, but mostly excited.)

One of the things I plan on talking about at my school visit is: why does research matter if you are writing a fictional story?

As a reader, books often feel like magic. Whole worlds come alive. I still think about book characters the way I think about old friends. As a writer, I don’t want to break the magic spell for a reader, if I can help it.

I saw a movie once where the characters drove to the airport from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s impossible. I know the movie-makers wanted to include the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in their movie, but as someone who was born and raised in the area, it bugged me. Another movie had a cable car running down a street that cable cars don’t run on. Instead of being invested in the characters and their conflicts in these movies, I was pulled out of the moment and distracted. I don’t think these things were errors as much as “creative license”, but it’s important to know when you’re taking creative liberties, versus just not doing the background work. I don’t want to make assumptions about a setting or experience, and get it wrong.

We have creative license when writing fiction, and can bend things to suit our needs. But if you manipulate too much, or bend without intention or, worst of all, out of laziness for getting it right, readers will know and be disappointed. Sometimes even angry. So that’s where research often comes in for me: drawing on firsthand experiences to deepen the writing and suspend the reader’s disbelief that they’re immersed in a made-up world.

To the other writers out there, what kind of research have you done for fictional works?



_2001843-122Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is the author of the forthcoming middle-grade mystery, Book Scavenger (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2015). Book Scavenger launches a contemporary mystery series that involves cipher-cracking, book-hunting, and a search for treasure through the streets of San Francisco. Jennifer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, CA, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

You can find Jennifer online at http://writerjenn.blogspot.com where she runs an interview series with children’s book authors and illustrators called “Creative Spaces.


Filed under Uncategorized

My 3-day Blind Date with my Editor

“A writer’s relationship with an editor is a sacred one.”

True words spoken by Kadir Nelson at the Texas Book Festival, 2011

My debut book, WE’VE GOT A JOB: THE 1963 BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN’S MARCH, was fortunate enough to attract interest from three publishers. Naively, I assumed I’d choose the highest bidder. Wisely, my agent suggested I talk to the acquiring editor at each house to get a sense of how we’d relate to each other during the revision process. Oh, I suddenly realized, editing JOB won’t be just a mechanical process of deleting commas and making verbs and subjects agree. We’d communicate about the substance of the book, share ideas, maybe disagree, negotiate. Yeah, I’d need to get along with that person.

Ultimately, I chose not only by bid but also by person. The others were very hard to turn down but when Kathy at Peachtree Publishers told me she’d been looking for a writer to tell the story I was proposing, I knew she was as committed to it as I was. But, could we commit to each other? I would learn soon, as Kathy’s bid included a trip to Atlanta, where Peachtree lives, and then a two-day research trip to Birmingham—together.

I was honored by Kathy’s support for the book. But, I also felt like the boy in the Dr. Seuss story who meets up with the green pants in the woods. Was she as scared of meeting me as I was of her?

You don’t have to break the ice with your editor the way we did. But, getting to know each other over a bottle of wine on my son-in-law’s parents’ back porch sure helped. We hugged at the door. We learned that Kathy’s husband collects cartoons. Their five-year-old son adores zombies. This sounds like a real person!

At Peachtree the next day, I met everyone, including the publisher, the receptionist, the artists, the publicists and marketers, the woman who packs the boxes of books shipped from the warehouse, and both cats. And, the doughnuts were yummy. Kathy and I also started on our substantive work.

One of the four people who marched in Birmingham  when he was a teenager now lives in Atlanta. Although I had talked with James by phone many times, we had never met. He agreed to come to Peachtree and to bring artifacts of his involvement in the civil rights movement.

“I love that you still have the flag,” Kathy told James. I looked closer at the framed memorabilia he brought. Yes, there was a small American flag. James explained that he was given that flag at a mass meeting the evening he learned that the courts declared that marchers, who had defied city laws and been jailed and then expelled from school, would be allowed to return to school. What a lovely and important story her comment elicited! (And, you might notice Dr. King in the center of the photograph–with James’s uncle.)

That afternoon, the two of us went to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site for a moving program on the life of the man who inspired and led the events I was writing about. Then, we drove the three hours to Birmingham. Even though I was, again, nervous about how we’d pass the time, talking about Dr. King, other civil rights leaders, the other three marchers, the story we wanted to tell, even recollections of growing up all solidified our relationship.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Today

Washington Booker III by his sign, 2010

Over the next two days, Kathy and I spent A LOT of time together. Dinner at a French bistro I had found on my two previous research trips to Birmingham. Breakfast at the hotel the next morning. A tour of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which was the headquarters of the movement in May of ’63. An extensive walk along the Birmingham Civil Rights Trail, where I found a placard with a quotation from one of the other marchers, with whom we had dinner that night, along with his wife. An interview with another marcher. More interviews the next day, a tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and conversations with the archivist.

After assuring each interviewee that her or his story would be respected,Kathy’s comments, questions, and observations were insightful and elicited revealing responses.

  • She asked Arnetta, who is light-skinned if she had ever thought about “passing” as a white. “No,” Arnetta answered. “You are proud of what you are. You are made by God.”

    Arnetta Streeter Gary, 2010

  • “What did you do while you were in jail?” she asked Wash. “We raised hell!” he said.
  • She asked the sister of a deceased marcher about their parents. And we learned that they had realized only recently that their parents had courageously sued the city to be able to use the public parks.

In the end, Kathy pointed out “how exhausting” it must have been for Birmingham to sustain its severe degree of segregation.

At the end of that long day: another three-hour drive back to Atlanta where I expected to thank her effusively and collapse at a friend’s house.

Except, my friends suddenly had to leave town. So, I spent the night in the guest room at Kathy’s house where I got to see her husband’s cartoon collection and their son’s zombie collection.

By that time, either we’d wonder how on earth we’d be able to spend the next 15 months working together or we couldn’t wait. You can figure out which.

Newbery-Prize-winner Rebecca Stead said in her talk at the Texas Book Festival that a relationship with an editor entails “trusting and coping.” Because I knew I could trust Kathy, I was able to cope when she pushed me on several issues, such as the potential demise of Dr. King’s leadership of the civil rights movement. Her questions led me to investigate further, to retrench a bit, and to verify. Because I hope that she learned she could trust me, I also pushed back in at least one instance–the inclusion of Wash’s Sunday school experiences in a chapter on mass meetings. We both trusted; we both coped.

Our field trip to Atlanta and Birmingham and back again was intense, revealing, and reassuring. I had made not only the right decision but also a friend, a colleague, and a mentor.


Filed under Colleagues, Editing and Revising, Publishers and Editors, Research, Writing and Life

How much research is too much research?

Since my fellow Emus have been discussing research lately, I feel compelled to throw in my well-researched two cents–or, if you prefer, 1.3 cents in Euros, 1.6 Japanese Yen, and half a Russian Ruble. I’ve done my research. But have I done too much?

Just like Cynthia needed to get the facts straight in her non-fiction work, J. and Jeannie needed to set the stage for their historical fiction novels, and Mike needed to get his sorry butt out there and talk to people, I also needed to do some research for my middle grade novel, FLYING THE DRAGON.

One of my characters comes from Japan, so I drew from my experience of living in Japan and teaching at the Yokohama International School. Was it enough? Not even close. I was lucky to come across two teachers from Japanese immersion schools in the county where I teach who were willing to look over my manuscript for any cultural or linguistic faux pas. Hoo boy, am I glad they did. Although I was familiar with Japanese culture on the surface, I didn’t know the ins and outs of daily family and school life.

Nor did I know a whit about kite-making or rokkaku (kite fighting), which also features prominently in the novel. I asked two experts, who kindly told me everything I needed to know. And maybe a little bit extra.

Okay, maybe a lot extra.

Photo taken by me at the very kite festival that appears in my novel. As far as I know, there are no people strapped to any of these kites.

My kite fighting research led to a history of kite fighting and flying. Hey, did you know that people used to be strapped to kites to spy behind enemy lines? Oh, and legend says there once was a thief in Japan who strapped himself to a kite and soared to the top of Nagoya Castle to steal golden fish scales from the roof. He was eventually caught and boiled in oil.

Not that..ahem… any of that’s in my novel…

Meet the fugu fish. Yum...

And! Speaking of fish scales…one of my character’s hometown in Japan is right on the sea, which led me to links on the deadly fugu fish, a delicacy in Japan. Japanese chefs actually need a license to prove they can safely remove the pouch of poison so their customers don’t croak.

Are there fugu fish in my novel? Um, not exactly.

Okay, no. There are no fugu fish at all.

So where does all this research lead me? For one, I’ve got plenty of material for at least one early chapter book about a fugu fish strapped to a kite.

As for the rest, I hope my novel will ring true for anyone who knows about life in Japan and fighting kites. And for those who know nothing of Japan or fighting kites, I hope it will give them an authentic taste.

Just don’t taste the fugu…


Filed under Editing and Revising, Research

Research, Authority and Time Travel

J's time machine - it's a work in progress.

After reading Mike’s charming Monday post, I had this little fantasy in which I went to the garage, cobbled together a time machine out of leftover fencing and lawn mower gas, and zipped off to the thirteenth century to do a little experiential research.

See, I’m a bit jealous of you contemporary and fantasy writers. I’d sure love to be able to do research by wandering down to the aquaponics shop, or better yet, just make something up to explain magic or shapeshifting or human flight.

With historical fiction, the one thing you can’t do is just make something up, and until I get that time machine off the ground, secondhand experience with a dash of firsthand evidence is all I’m going to get.

But here’s the thing about Mike’s experience that cuts across genre: authority.  What gives me the right as a pesky writer – a pesky and obscure writer – to have access to certain information?  And who in their right mind is going to take time out of her or his busy day to accommodate me?

The first time I approached a Special Collections desk in a Major Research Library to ask to see a rare book, I was sure the librarian was going to take one look at me, laugh, and point me toward the door.  I was not a professor.  I was not a scholar.  I was not even a Real Writer.  I didn’t feel like I had any right to that book, even though it had information that would fill in key gaps in my worldbuilding.

Special Collections - I'd live here if they'd let me.

I hesitated for a long time with the call slip in my hand, even with library and archival training of my own under my belt.  At that moment, I felt like I needed a note from someone else giving me permission.  I felt like just wanting to know – just needing to know – for some kids’ book about the middle ages wasn’t good enough.

Of course I handed over the slip and got the book without any drama at all, just like Mike’s WIP will be enhanced by his trips to various comic book emporia.  As writers, and especially as writers for kids, we have a responsibility to get things right, to present rich and detailed worlds inhabited by complicated characters.  That means we need information of all kinds, and that means we have the authority to find things out.  Authority is not something that’s given – it’s taken.  Anything given can be taken back.

For my part, I think I’ll put the time machine up on blocks and stick to books.  Authority is great and all, but I’m not sure I want to arrive bright-eyed in 1294 and bounce up to guys like my rebel leader, Madog ap Llywelyn, and say, “Hey, can you tell me a little about how you plan to feed these guys all winter?  What’s in your bag?  What do you plan to put on that cut?  And hey – what about your underwear?”


Filed under Research

The Honest Truth behind My Lies (or why you can only trust a fiction writer for the little stuff)

I seem to be posting a lot lately about the paradoxes of the writing life, and here’s another one (honestly, I do think of other things sometimes):  Fiction writers tell lies to reveal truths.

Digging for facts takes on a more literal meaning in my other line of work (I am the one in the very right hand corner, bending over by a wheelbarrow, in case you were wondering.)

At least this is what I was told by a wise friend just the other day, and his words came back to me as I read Cynthia’s post.  He was right, which is why my historical novel required research and fact checking, though not to the extent that Cynthia’s work of non-fiction did.  In my other job, as an archaeologist, I have done plenty of first hand research, some of it historical and archival of the sort Cynthia did for her upcoming book on the Birmingham Children’s March, and like Cynthia, that research has usually aimed to discover the truth of what happened in the past and convey it with accuracy and sensitivity.

Researching my novel was a little different. MAGIC CARP (to be renamed soon), is the story of a family of Bohemian immigrants working in the coal mine district of southern Colorado at the beginning of the twentieth century. Trina and her family never existed, so I didn’t have to worry about getting the details of my plot historically accurate. My story comes with the luxury of that disclaimer that you see at the end of movies if you are one of the few that stick around watching the credits: the characters and events are purely fictional and any similarities to events or people alive or dead is entirely coincidental.  (I wish I could also give you the “no animals were harmed” disclaimer, but I am sorry to say there are some chickens in my novel that meet with an evil fate. Fortunately, they also are purely fictitious, so no REAL animals were harmed.)

Even though my plot is all a lie, schemed up in my dishonest little imagination, I still did plenty of research because of that paradox above–the need to reveal truths. Of course the truths my friend was talking about, the ones I really want to reveal as a writer of middle grade fiction, are truths about the human spirit, the things that make us all tick, and the things we can accomplish if we really set out minds to it. These are truths of such a grand scale that research comes in the form of life–I’ve been doing research for this book, and for every book I will ever write, since the day I was born. Wow, am I qualified!

Monument honoring the Ludlow Massacre, a labor dispute in Colorado's coal camps that had a significant impact on labor issues in early 20th Century America

I’m not off the hook, however, when it comes to historical research.  Because while I don’t have to get the facts straight about the plot, and while the grand truths of life are known to me through living, I still have to set those actions and grand truths into a setting filled with enough detail to transport the reader to a different time and place, and to convince them that I am not lying (even though, of course, I am. Never trust a fiction writer.) I want my reader to fall head-first into 1901, into the filth and tedium that was a coal mining camp, into the life of a hopeful young immigrant.  To convince them it’s real, I need detail. And I WANT to get it right–events in Colorado’s coal camps were historically significant and did impact the history of our nation. I want to do that justice!

So while Cynthia’s book research allowed her to bring together the threads of real lives that together weave into the fabric of history, my book’s research aimed to sew on the sequins to that fabric.  And the interesting thing about needing little details instead of significant facts, is that historians haven’t always bothered to record those little details of ordinary lives. Do you ever remember reading in a history book anything about the kinds of shoes a coal miner’s wife wore, or what a can of plums cost in 1901?

To make my characters and their settings feel real, I needed details about Bohemia (a part of the Czech Republic) to give them a past, about southern Colorado coal camps to create their present, and about land values in 1901, to give them  a future.  Like Cynthia, I read books on the topic; Rick Clyne’s book Coal People, filled with oral histories as well as historical research was immensely helpful.  But most of my detail research came through my own exploration of primary documents, in the form of photographs and newspaper articles.

This is dangerous work. I love poring over old photographs, and I can get lost in them for hours, looking at the details. Some of my best information comes from things in the photos that weren’t even the focus of the photographer, like the things or people in the background. What do the houses look like? Is the paint peeling or are is everything well kept?  How are people dressed, and what does it say about them? These are the details that help me make the setting real, that I spend time looking for in photos.

Fortunately, this kind of research is easier than it used to be, thanks to a cool little tool called the internet (maybe you’ve heard of it?) Several wonderful archives of historic photos are available to the public, like the U.S. National Archives, or the Western History Archives of the Denver Public Library. By typing in “Coal Mining 1900” I suddenly had a wealth of setting details at my fingertips.

Libraries are such useful places! My local library even has it's own history sculpture right out front.

Reading old newspapers was harder (and harder on the eyes), but fun too. This was done at the microfilm reader of my local library, where several different newspapers from 1901 were available, filled with ads saying things like “Fancy Plums and Peaches, 1½ cents a can!” right next to articles saying “Thursday last, Mrs. Thompson’s cow got loose and caused quite a ruckus in John Wilson’s cabbage patch.”

Like I said, it’s dangerous work. You can get lost easily, but when you find your way back out, you will have a head full of details worthy of masking your lies and revealing your truths. And what could be more rewarding than that?


Filed under Research, Writing

What Happened?

Every writer does research. How else could Dotti Enderle write so convincingly in CROSSWIRE about the Texas drought of 1883? Or, Sarah DeFord Williams about the 1918 influenza epidemic in PALACE BEAUTIFUL? (And, how, exactly, did Conrad Wesselhoeft research vodka-filled frozen grapes for ADIOS, NIRVANA?!) Writers of fiction and historical fiction awe me in the ways they infuse their novels with information without flaunting it.

As a nonfiction writer, I have the luxury of baring my facts. I thought this week, I’d explain how I gather them—and when I’ve had to give up on verifying a few of them, at least for a while.

My EMU Debut, WE HAVE A JOB: THE 1963 BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN’S MARCH, began as a five-page, 1000-word article for COBBLESTONE Magazine on music in the civil rights period.

Cobblestone, April 2008

To write the article, I read half-a-dozen books and some articles, and I got to listen to music. It was while researching that article that I learned an essential fact about a series of events that inspired me to write my first-ever book.

As a New-York-Times-reading, Huntley-Brinkley-watching high school senior in 1963, I thought I knew about these events. What I recalled was that black people marched through downtown Birmingham to demand integration, and, in retaliation, the authorities, particularly the racist commissioner of public safety named Bull Connor, turned powerful hoses on the demonstrators, rolling them down the street, and let German shepherd K-9s rip off their clothes and bite into their stomachs and legs.

Statue of Monitor hose

That’s accurate, as far as it goes. The teeny, tiny fact I was unaware of until I wrote the article was that all the marchers—all 3,000 to 4,000 of them—were school children.

So, I decided to look into it.

First, I read most of a 900-page Pulitzer-Prize winning book, which is the middle of a three-volume set on civil rights by Taylor Branch. Then, I read a 600-page Pulitzer-Prize winner by Diane McWhorter, who was a sixth-grader in Birmingham in 1963. Then, another 300-page book on Birmingham by Glenn Eskew and much of a 700-pager by David Halberstam on children’s involvement in civil rights.

But for Birmingham

Then, transcripts of two-dozen interviews conducted by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute with people who had marched. Then, I interviewed some marchers myself. Then, I went to Birmingham—three times. Then…

My eight-page bibliography contains entries for 54 books, 46 personal interviews, 30 transcripts, five families’ papers plus the Bull Connor papers, many dozens of newspaper and magazine articles, six films, multiple websites, three recordings, and a partridge in a pear tree. And, that doesn’t include the photo research, the file for which, including photos, exceeds 150 pages. The current draft of the book contains 606 footnotes, and I’m still chasing down citations.

It’s because of all the research this book has entailed that, when I give presentations to other writers of nonfiction for kids I say, “You don’t have to write what you know about. Write what you want to learn about.” My husband says I should get a PhD for this book. But, who needs a PhD after writing a kids’ book? It’s a comedown.

Doing research, I met my heroes—grown-ups who, as teenagers and even younger kids, defied laws, customs, dogs, hoses, and jail to save their families and their futures. One told me how reading about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo in Sunday school “prepared us to meet a mighty enemy without fear.” Another said the first time (of many) that she heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speak, she knew he was “God-sent.” A third confided that, after the marchers won a lawsuit against the city, waving an American flag “restored my faith.”

Along the way, I also learned not only that the youngest marcher was only nine years old but also that she carried a game, Operation, with her so she’d have something to play with during her week in jail. I now know that, when kids went to sit-in at the white waiting room of the segregated train station, they called the act “going clean-sided;” the name says it all. I know that, 48 years ago, the Birmingham jails could hold 1,205 prisoners. These details matter, and, early next year, my readers will know why.

After all this, how could I give up on verifying a few facts, at least for a while?

Our memories can be a combination of sketchy and confident. This is especially so when events were emotion-packed and occurred nearly half-a-century ago. One man remembers a moving conversation he had with Dr. King at a particular time and place; but the books I read put Dr. King elsewhere at that moment. A woman knows she marched with a small group of friends one day—the day that news reports numbered the marchers at nearly a thousand.

What does a writer do when the very people who made history sometimes make it hard to know what happened? My approach is to do a lot of research. And, then, a lot more. And, then, like other nonfiction writers who argue with the past, I use my judgment.

History is facts. History is also stories. I focus on where these merge, and I’m relieved I don’t have to submerge them. As I say, I’m awed by my EMLA siblings who do that so beautifully.


by | April 11, 2011 · 12:01 am