Recently, I was able to have a brief conversation with Mark Gilleo, author of Love Thy Neighbor. So much about the book pulled me in but I think that what intrigued me most was that it was based on actual events.
When I was writing Love Thy Neighbor, I did most of my research on the fly. I only researched enough to get the answer to the question I had at that moment. I generally don’t sit down and try to become anything more than casually conversational on any topic I may hit on in the book. There are probably two reasons for this: First, I don’t have that much time. Secondly, I have a short attention span. The latter often leads me off track and I find myself clicking on various links, related and not. Before too long I’m trying to remember why I’m checking out the cheapest package tours to a cashew farm in The Gambia, when I originally started my search looking for information on low-orbiting satellites.
I’ll take a minute to date myself here, as well as to be thankful to the technology gods. I am old enough to remember what research was like “back in the day.” The card catalog. The Dewey Decimal system. Microfiche. Those split bamboo newspaper poles that looked like kendo training weapons. The Internet changed all of that. There is so much information available on the Internet now that writers should spend a little of the time they save on searching and apply it to vetting their sources. Anyone can throw together a website these days. It requires even less skill to post comments to one. So the convenience factor of the web is at least partially negated by the risk of a viable source.
One of my favorite parts of Love Thy Neighbor is the chapter on Sheriff Laskey and Nelson County. Nelson County is indeed a real county in Virginia, just South of Charlottesville. And Nelson County did indeed suffer through the largest rainfall in the US in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille. The rest of the location and the story around Nelson County are fictitious. I used a little research to open the door to a lot of fiction. Sometimes, without getting into specific examples, I just look at a photograph and imagine the story. Generally speaking, the more research I have to do, the more it feels like work.
I would be remiss in covering research if I didn’t mention people. I have a pretty good group of friends who are far smarter than I, and if I couldn’t find the answer on Google, I usually sent out a “help me” email and someone answered. I will also say that no matter how hard I tried to be accurate with the research portion of the book, I am sure I missed a few things or got a few things wrong.
Thanks, so much for taking the time to speak with me, Mark! I hope that you’ll stop by again!
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