The Roaring Redwoods & Research


(Episode 3 is available on Amazon, Nook and Kobo!)

The Roaring Redwoods is my first historical fiction effort. And I don’t think I could have done it without the internet. Last night, I boggled to think of how writers did all this before the World Wide Web.

I have done research for my contemporary novels as characters have unique professions or travel or what-have-you. But this research for setting and nonfiction cameos and historical accuracy is unique (for me).

And hard.

I mean, things like hemlines, hairstyles, food, the weather…I’m still trying to figure out when the roads got paved. I had to make an edit because trucks didn’t have bumpers in 1925.

It is a lot.

Some of it has been a blast. I joined a Facebook group about the 1920s that has been fun (and helpful). My good friend (and editor) Katherine told me about an English miniseries, The Grand, that was entertaining and inspiring. I stayed at the Berkley City Club which was designed by Julia Morgan and enjoyed wandering its rooms and swimming in its pool and eating in its restaurant (named Julia’s).

Some of it has provided amazing plot twists– better than I could have dreamed. For example, Sicilian gangster Carlo Matranga moving from New Orleans to Los Angeles just about the time I needed Joe to meet up with someone in LA…  (Episode 3: A Shattered Silence)

In another bit of random research, I stumbled on a plot twist that I can not wait to write! (Episode 7!!!)  So great when history works in my favor like that.

It does make me cringe a bit when it doesn’t work. For example, Carlo. I couldn’t get a lot of info about him and so I had to make up what I needed. What if he was a really good guy genuinely trying to reform out West? Sorry, Carlo.

I do think he would not have been pals with Capone because part of Carlo’s difficulties in New Orleans were related to conflicts with Italians (non Sicilians). And Capone’s reported (probable) hits on the Unione Siciliana would not have gone over well. But, from there it’s all imagination…

Sometimes I find the line between research and rabbit trails to blur. Back to Carlo- the story of his family’s business in New Orleans was so interesting, I lost quite a bit of time reading all about it. And while Capone affects Joe’s life, he’s really a very minor character and yet I know all about his son’s ear surgery. Julia Morgan is so interesting, I read a whole biography on her and have pages of notes. Yet she only got a few paragraphs.

I’ve enjoyed it all, but- like cocktails- it’s important to know when to say when.