Cincinnati-based author, paranormal researcher, and artist Kat Klockow shared some of her favorite research tools with the audience at the June 3rd Conversations with Authors program, and had some suggestions for writers when writing non-fiction and when incorporating history into fiction.
Mrs. Klockow encouraged writers to use actual, physical locations when choosing a setting for one’s book since it facilitates the reader’s identification with the characters’ surroundings. However, a cultural anthropologist by trade, Mrs. Klockow cautioned that ample research into the cultural context of the book’s setting, characters, etc. is vital since readers will know right away if you as the writer got those all-important basic facts wrong.
“You want your readers invested in what you write,” said Mrs. Klockow.
Television shows featuring unusual locations, adventurous foods, and/or local customs are good staring points when searching for story ideas and when attempting to get a general feel for a place, She suggested looking at online images, maps or visiting tourism sites for details and ideas, bearing in mind that most images and information found online is copyrighted material and cannot be used without permission – if at all.
When researching historic events, fashion, and other cultural details specific to a particular time and place, there are a number of online options such as fashion archives, slang dictionaries, image catalogues, and ancestry websites with or without membership requirements. We have included some of those sites on our Links page, accessed from the tab at the top of this page.
Mrs. Klockow encouraged the audience to thoroughly research all facets of plot, character and setting, and for those writers looking for ideas, she said, “If you need inspiration, look at your own family tree.”