Research: Everyone Needs To Do It

Ok, I’m going to be frustratingly vague here, but something keyed me off and you all know what happens next:


Someone just pointed out a book about a specific group who lives in a specific place and has a specific culture.

Let me be very clear up front: My family has been part of this specific blah blah blah for 14 generations.

Hey, when I promise “frustratingly vague” I mean it, right? 😉

I clicked on this book because it wasn’t just incidentally taking place in that area but trying to sell off of it. The entire premise is based around it… and the author got it completely wrong. So wrong that for once, I’m actually angry about it.

Let me give an equivalent: If you live in Hyannis Port that makes you a Kennedy, right?


Now, I’m looking at this book and all it’s great reviews and I really just want to scathe. Just want to be like, have you ever even driven through XYZ, because your character wouldn’t be a ABC nor would anyone care if she was. You got your PREMISE completely wrong. I don’t mean details (which we’ve all had to suffer through books that get details wrong (there is no “tall waterfall” on the Charles in Boston)), I mean the PREMISE. The big “This Is The Idea Behind The Book.” And I’m even more horrified to find out this author is writing a SERIES around this town/community/group when he has no flipping idea what he’s talking about.

When I read the blurb (and then some of the reviews) it became obvious he continued down this path with details too.

Here’s the problem, folks: Contemporary authors need to research. Don’t lie to yourself and think every place is the same. I’d shoot you down for stereotyping people… I’ll shoot you down for stereotyping a place or era as well.

This author… Well, I’ll never pick up anything by him. I’m ridiculously ticked off just reading the premise, I can’t imagine reading his book. BUT! CAITIE! What if he writes about something else later? you ask.

What if he does? He’s shown me he has absolutely no care or concern for his craft. He doesn’t care about anything other than The Big Idea. I don’t trust authors like that to honor their characters, setting or story… especially if those things are based on very real things.

Your job, if you want to take a page from real life, is to honor it. I don’t mean copy it or nail it, I mean honor it. This story is so insulting to the community by pigeon-holing it in a way that isn’t even true that I’m disgusted.

So, don’t lose your writers before they hit buy. If you want to write about somewhere/someone(s) real, do your research. Go there or talk to people from there… not outsiders. Don’t let someone outside a group tell you who the group really is. No one knows the inner workings of a community from the outside.

I’ve crossed this author off my To Buy list forever, not just because I’m personally insulted by his premise, but because he’s lost my trust as an author.



  1. I agree with you 100%. Yes, small details are one thing. If a writer wants to be lazy and do zero research, that’s their prerogative. But then they should make up a complete town and people and culture, not pretend they know all about a real one that exists.

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