Authors often get asked how much research we have to do for each book. So, I thought I’d share a peek into a bit of the research for MY FAIR LATTE, which comes out March 3 – one month from today. (Think *pre-orders*!)
Halley Greer, my unemployed barista protagonist, unexpectedly inherits a timeworn movie theater, which after some renovations, she reopens with a coffee/wine bar and showing classic films.
Perhaps since I spent most of my adult life working as a newspaper reporter, I’m not content to simply do research online, although I can go down that rabbit hole for hours at a time. I like to get information directly from people who have personal experience and knowledge of the research subject.
For the first book in this new series, I languished for hours in coffeehouses over expertly pulled espresso shots. I asked nosy questions and stared at numerous baristas as they created latte art. My husband enjoyed (endured) multiple documentaries on baristas and the coffee industry.
Since my main character owns and runs a movie theater, there’s a marquee in front that advertises the classic film that’s currently showing. Most of the marquees I saw online (and in the real world, for that matter), are flat against the front of the theater. You typically see theater staff putting letters up on the marquee either standing on a ladder or using a long pole. But the marquee on the former theater (now a cool bistro) in my neighborhood has a different kind of marquee, one that projects out over the sidewalk. And I decided to use that one as my inspiration.
The photos here showcase the rarely-seen back of this marquee, thanks to Steven at the Delft Bistro in Marquette, who allowed me behind the scenes. Photos show me holding an “S” that goes up on the marquee (these are heavy!), both behind the Delft Marquee and in the room where the letters are stored.
In the photo here we can see Steven, who’s wearing a safety harness that’s attached to the steel structure holding up the marquee. He ducks under the marquee, groups the letters, then stands on the part of the platform extending in front of the marquee to arrange words announcing special events. Steven is bravely kneeling on the outer edge as I not-quite-as-bravely stand in the doorway to the marquee platform, talking to him. Finally, there’s a picture of the marquee at night, all lit up, including the underside of the platform.
The hours I spent looking at marquees online and all the information I gathered on my field trip add up to one short paragraph in the book. (You’re welcome.) The point of the research wasn’t to give readers a tutorial, but to make the scene vivid with some authentic details. And, if I’m honest, to satisfy my own endless curiosity (nosiness).
Broke, unemployed barista Halley unexpectedly inherits a timeworn movie theater and reopens it with a coffee bar showing classic films. Opening night’s premiere of “My Fair Lady” is a bit of movie magic until, faster than you can say Eliza Doolittle, a customer turns up dead. Apparently, the deceased wasn’t a very nice man and several people may have had reason to kill him – including Halley! (At least that’s the way the cops seem to see it.) Halley and her friends must find the killer or her new business, her new life, and budding romance in charming Utopia Springs could be DOA.
Is there a subject you’d enjoy delving into for research, or someplace you’d like to go for a field trip? Please share in the comments.