Research—not just for school papers…

My second novel, The Spanish Acquisition is now available from Crimson Romance, and so as a public service I am outlining for all aspiring writers the process required in penning such a marvelous opus. First off, I cannot stress too emphatically the importance of detailed research. Often people assume that if you are writing fiction in the present time, research is not required.


In a way, research may be more necessary in contemporary fiction as every reader will be personally acquainted with the lore, costumes and mores of your chosen period. Try putting a Justin Bieber quote into the nineties or a Duran Duran song into 2012 and you’ll know just what I’m talking about. But some research can be a matter of checking your memory bank for personal experiences. In my new novel, the heroine, Lily, is a sculptor living in Brooklyn and attending The Arts Students League in Manhattan. Coincidently, I have relatives living in Brooklyn and attending that art school. I tried welding and clay sculpture there myself but, although it was enjoyable, I never developed any artistic ability.

So where, you’re asking, does my much vaunted research come in? Well, I’m a gonna tell you. In my many years in the dating/cohabiting and everything in between stages, I have never actually dated a tall, dark stranger—or at least not a man with dark curly hair and brown eyes. How could I possibly write a romance with such an exotic creature? I needed to rectify this conundrum.

An advertisement in the Georgia Straight, the newspaper popular in the hip West End of Vancouver, yielded many responses most of which I either did not understand or—if photographs were included—shocked the bejeesus out of me. Some of those position and body parts looked painful, if not highly implausible. And although I was quickly alerted to the many varieties of tall, dark and curly, I didn’t feel the respondents particularly helpful.

I switched to an on-line dating service. There I was introduced to another assortment of men my age. One of the things that struck me immediately with this group, is that older men seemed more interested in talking and less in helping with my, er, physical research. After a certain age, the female body part most attractive to men becomes the ear. Could I listen to one more diatribe about the ex-wife, the mother and how everyone at work was out to get him? It also becomes more difficult to find men with curly dark hair, or even hair, for research purposes.

So I set my target on the younger demographic of my heroic types. Holy doodle! What was I doing wrong in my younger years? It turns out there are a lot of brown haired, brown eyed men just dying to help out a diligent writer. In fact, there were so many, I almost didn’t have time to write my book.  It was a tough slog, but for the sake of my many readers, I persevered. And if I don’t get a Pulitzer for this book, then I don’t know what those judges are thinking.

In closing, regardless of whether or not The Spanish Acquisition garners rave reviews, I know that it is a far better book for my unselfish and thorough research. And that is a satisfying feeling for any writer. Hmm, maybe my next romance should be about George Clooney…


Available in e-books everywhere:  (for


When a multibillionaire business mogul from Barcelona meets a struggling art student from New York in the Dominican Republic, sparks fly. But can they overcome their differences and an odd case of mistaken identity?

On vacation in the Dominican Republic, Lily Scott meets the man of her dreams, and then some.  She’s astounded when he seems equally attracted to her. But after a whirlwind affair, she is devastated when he abruptly insults her and leaves.

Carlos adores Lily, the sweet, unassuming artist he meets on vacation, but then when his personal assistant informs him that she’s suing his company, he exacts revenge and then tries to move on. But can he?

To read more about Nora Snowdon and her other books, visit:




  1. You are an inspiration to us all, Nora, with your dogged pursuit of accuracy in your writing. I plan to follow in your footsteps. Just as soon as I get my husband to agree with me online dating and responding to personal ads in the alternative newspapers.

    • thanks, peggy. i’m sure your dear husband is too noble to wish to hinder your writing career. right??? 😉

  2. *snort*

    “Physical research.”

    Oh, you slay me!

  3. Interesting, Nora. I am research buff, too.
    -R.T. Wolfe

    • does that research come with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more…”?

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