Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am excited today to welcome Laura her to tell you about her brand new cozy series!!
The Necessity of Research
by Laurie Cass
After I came up with the idea of writing a mystery series that centered on a young bookmobile librarian and her rescue cat, I danced around for awhile, congratulating myself on dreaming up such a genius mastermind idea, excited about the concept, thrilled with the possibilities, and generally geeked about life in general.
Then I sat down and started to write.
When I wasn’t even a chapter into the manuscript, I realized that I didn’t know anything about bookmobiles. The handful of times I’d been on board a bookmobile when I was six years old was not going to be enough knowledge. What had I been thinking, to come up with a genius book idea but not be able to actually, you know, write the book? How dumb was that?
I took a deep breath. Took another one. Then another. Research, I told myself. You’re going to have to do some research.
The problem is, I have an odd relationship with doing research for my books. Basically, I’ve avoided it as much as humanly possible. I recognize the need for accuracy in fiction, but once I start researching a topic, I turn up something else that needs to be explored, then something else, then another thing, and before you know it, the deadline to deliver a manuscript is looming and you’ve only written half the book.
In the past, I’ve done my best to write mostly familiar things into my books, thus avoiding the necessity of research. (Lazy or efficient? You decide.) But the bookmobile idea? Well, if I wanted to write the book properly, and I did, it was time to dig deeply into research.
What does a writer, or anyone, do these days when faced with a question? Go to the internet, of course. It didn’t take me long to find the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. ABOS is a wonderful and supportive group of librarians, and their listserv has been an invaluable help. Becoming an ABOS member was one of the smartest research things I did – and it was a little bonus that attending their 2013 conference in Baton Rouge taught me the joys of jambalaya 🙂
But while having access to a couple of hundred bookmobile and outreach librarians was great, I was still having problems visualizing the interior of the bookmobile. Where, exactly, were the doors? And how many doors were there? What about steps? How many books would be on the bookmobile? How long would it be? Would my librarian need a commercial driver’s license? So many questions and how would I find the answers?
Yup. More research.
I contacted a number of bookmobile manufacturers. All were helpful, but Barb Ferne of OBS talked to me at length and even sent me pictures and sample floor plans of the 31-foot long vehicle we decided would be perfect for my book.
For another few chapters I wrote with the floor plans in front of me. I knew where the doors were, I knew where the engine was, I knew that there were two computer desks and a wheelchair lift and 3000 books. Hooray! I could finish writing the book!
Only…I couldn’t. Because although, thanks to ABOS, I was learning about the trials, tribulations, and joys of bookmobiles, and although I knew what my bookmobile looked like inside and out, I didn’t know what it felt like to be a bookmobile librarian. And if I didn’t know that, how on earth could I write these books properly?
Huh. Now what?
I contacted bookmobile manufacturers again, and soon I had the name of a not-too-distant library that had recently purchased a bookmobile. I contacted the library, and lo and behold, less than two weeks later I had the tremendous pleasure of spending an entire day on their bookmobile.
Research bliss! I wrote down pages and pages of notes, took scads of pictures, and had a tremendously good time. Best of all, I finally got a solid feel for what it meant to be a bookmobile librarian. Finally, I could finish writing the book and have confidence that I was getting it right.
Without doing the research, I would have missed a million and a half critical details about bookmobiles. I wouldn’t have learned about generator problems, I wouldn’t have known about having to clean books, and I wouldn’t have had a clue about lobby stops or traffic counts or floating vs. dedicated collections.
But most of all, if I hadn’t’t taken that research plunge, I wouldn’t have seen how close the relationship between bookmobile librarians and their patrons can become.
Research. It’s not the necessary evil I once considered it to be. It’s a journey of discovery, a journey that, if you’re lucky, can take you to places that you never even knew existed.
About Laurie Cass
Laurie Cass grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. Currently, Laurie and her husband share their house with two cats, the inestimable Eddie, and the adorably cute Sinii. When Laurie isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing. Laurie also writes the PTA Mystery Series under the name Laura Alden.
Lending a Paw:
A Bookmobile Cat Mystery
Brand New Series!!
Obsidian (December 3, 2013)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
E-Book File Size: 1523 KB
With the help of her rescue cat, Eddie, librarian Minnie Hamilton is driving a bookmobile based in the resort town of Chilson, Michigan. But she’d better keep both hands on the wheel, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride…
Eddie followed Minnie home one day, and now she can’t seem to shake the furry little shadow. But in spite of her efforts to contain her new pal, the tabby sneaks out and trails her all the way to the bookmobile on its maiden voyage. Before she knows it, her slinky stowaway becomes her cat co-pilot!
Minnie and Eddie’s first day visiting readers around the county seems to pass without trouble—until Eddie darts outside at the last stop and leads her to the body of a local man who’s reached his final chapter.
Initially, Minnie is ready to let the police handle this case, but Eddie seems to smell a rat. Together, they’ll work to find the killer—because a good librarian always knows when justice is overdue.
Eddie, a fabulous furry feline, has absolutely stolen my heart and tugged Minnie right in there too! He isn’t magical and doesn’t have any special powers. He just has a delightful “MWR”, snores to beat the band and is just so sneaky. Plus his person, Minnie, talks to him just like all of us pet lovers do. They do understand us you know!! Bookstores have cats so why shouldn’t bookmobiles? What a “purrfect” setting!
Laurie Cass has not only introduced us to the life of a bookmobile librarian but crafted a very interesting whodunit. It is really hard to do this in the first book of a series because there is so much foundation that needs to laid out for the reader to become invested in the characters. She has done this wonderfully.
The victim himself was a very interesting character. Minnie saw one side of the man while others saw a completely different side which leads to plenty of suspects. Minnie lives part of the year on a houseboat which sounds like a lot of fun. During the winter she lives with her aunt in her huge house. When tourists season starts Aunt Frances rents out rooms. This also brings some colorful characters to the story. Her boss at the library is another character I want to see evolve.
This is a great debut for this series. I am already looking forward to snuggling up and getting cozy with Eddie… oh and Minnie too!
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have w copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
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Contest Will End December 26, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
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and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”