How to Guarantee an Unsuccessful Fiction Research Trip

How to Guarantee an Unsuccessful Fiction Research Trip

Have you ever embarked on an interview or research trip perfectly prepared? You’re confident, and organized, perhaps even holding court to admirers of your work and those awe-struck by writers in general?

Not you? Me either.

Instead I’ve stumbled through more awkward interviews, factory tours, and lunchtime conversations than I care to document. In fact, I’m certain my mistakes have disillusioned men and women, even a few children, across the United States (and parts of Canada) from all writerly stereotypes.

I’m more jester, than royalty.

Instead of hiding my blunders, I’ve decided to highlight the top 7 and share, so others, like you, can guarantee your 1st, 2nd, or 30th interview will be as unsuccessful as many of mine have been.

{The tricks for confusing, giggly banter remains a speciality which I’ll save for another post.}

1)      Don’t take extra batteries for your recorder. Because that Energizer Bunny from 2009 will never quit.

2)      Don’t use a digital voice recorder. Instead rely on your mobile phone. The quality of a mobile phone call is excellent, isn’t it? Your smartphone microphone will produce a robust recording, not a tinny far-off one that also captures wind, crowd noise, and machine screeches at the exact same level. Or even better, take a notebook and pencil. Nothing says “I’m a hard-core journalist-type” as whipping out a pencil to scribble on a piece of paper, right? You’ll decipher those acronyms that are completely out-of-context with noooooo problem later on.

3)      Don’t take pictures.  Your memory is good enough. So what if you have trouble remembering your firstborn’s name. This research is important. No way you’ll forget the color of the brick inlaid flooring of the wine cellar. Especially if you come up with some mnemonic trick. Because even though you’ve only got a story outline, you know exactly which details you’ll need two or three months from now. We are professional writers remember.

4)      Don’t use a real camera. Again a smartphone works! Because a magazine editor will never hear through the grapevine about your visit to a remote craft beer brewery and offer a front-cover full spread article for a behind-the-scene look. (Psst.Just as long as you have photographs he can use to go along with the impersonal professional ones the brewery provides.)Things like that don’t happen. Eh-ver.

5)      Don’t ask for a tour. People hate to talk about their work. Absolutely hate it. Anyway, you can learn the same information by eavesdropping on co-workers’ conversations. No one will call security, I promise.

6)      Don’t ask for business cards or use the back of the card to jot identifying information. You know how to spell Tiffany/Tifani/Tiphanie and you’ll remember her last name Cyley/Kylely/Wiley/Miley if you need to call for clarification. If you can’t quite remember her name, describing her to the receptionist is always an option. How many medium-height, medium-build, brown-haired Tiffany/Tifani/Tiphanie Cyley/Kylely/Wiley/Miley could possibly work there? The receptionist will know everyone! And, if the receptionist is a computer, you can go through voicemail database search of 350 employees to listen for the name that triggers your memory. It’s fun!

7)      Lastly, don’t write down your thoughts immediately. Wait weeks, even months, to open your notebook and puzzle over what the stars surrounding “wine barrels” and the words VERY IMPORTANT might refer to. Just meditate on those notes for a few days instead of trying to make deadline. (Deadlines are overrated, don’t you think?)

So there are my top 7 ways that keep me – and now you – from suffering from envy, backstabbing, and jealousy with the public. As Lorde tells us, we’ll never be royal.

QUESTION: Do you have a tip for an unsuccessful interview or research trip? Would love to read it below. C’mon and share. Or have I hit them all? : )

And, before you go – please take a moment to sign up for my very infrequent newsletter. By signing up you can stay updated when my new books are released. (Got two coming out this year: one in the fall, one in the winter.) 

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

by Bridgette Booth

Bridgette Booth writes for children and young adults.

See more posts by this author

Comments Off on How to Guarantee an Unsuccessful Fiction Research Trip