It’s Jen here, and I’m so happy to welcome fellow Berkley author, Kate Lansing, to the blog again. Kate writes the fabulous Colorado Wine Mysteries and is giving away a signed copy of A Pairing to Die For to one lucky commenter!
In the Name of Research
Thanks so much, Chicks, for having me as a guest!! I’m thrilled to be here.
A Pairing to Die For, the second book in my Colorado Wine Mystery series, came out yesterday—huzzah! This story involved a great deal of research, more than any other manuscript I’ve written.
Being a mystery novel, there was, of course, plenty of the police procedure/crime scene/forensic variety, which no doubt flagged me to whoever is monitoring the interwebs. But there were some pieces I couldn’t find online no matter how specific my Google search…like, the specifics surrounding the interior of Boulder County Jail, where my protagonist’s boyfriend spends time.
For that, I needed to visit in person. And let me just say, from cold-calling the sheriff’s office and explaining why I was interested in a tour to the actual tour itself, it was an experience! One that led to me rewriting multiple scenes for accuracy.
The rest of my research primarily revolved around wine, which, if I’m being honest, is a major perk of my cozy niche! Part of my decision in setting this story in the fall was to highlight the grape harvest. I wanted to show the painstaking process and cool chemistry behind each varietal and blend we enjoy swirling, sniffing, and sipping. Which meant I needed to, ya know, actually learn about the process and chemistry.
YouTube was definitely helpful, and there were a handful of videos I watched over and over (not as many times as my household has viewed Baby Shark, mind you, but still plenty). Where I learned the most, though, was from a trip to a local tasting room in Boulder.
I stopped by BookCliff Vineyards one afternoon (pre-pandemic) when the harvest was in full swing. I was lucky enough to sneak a peek at the back of the winery where I could smell the sweet and tart jamminess of the harvest, observe bins in early fermentation, and learn about the muscle involved in a step called punch-downs. And taste some wine, naturally.
Research can add richness and credibility to a story, and, in my humble experience as a writer, is generally enlightening, giving me a broader understanding of the world.
For a chance to win a signed copy of A PAIRING TO DIE FOR, tell me, writers, what’s the strangest bit of research you’ve ever done for a story? Readers, what’s something you’ve read in fiction that you were surprised to discover was true?
Kate Lansing is an award-winning short story author. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and a chair-napping tabby cat named Maple.
About A Pairing to Die For:
A young winemaker is over a barrel when her new boyfriend is accused of murder in this delightful cozy mystery.
It’s fall in Boulder, Colorado, and the leaves aren’t the only things changing. Parker Valentine, owner of Vino Valentine, is finally settling in to her winery and her new relationship with Reid Wallace, a local chef. But their delicate pairing is endangered when Reid’s estranged family comes into town to celebrate the opening of his new restaurant.
Reid and his family are immediately at loggerheads, given their often acidic temperaments, but Parker still wants to make a good first impression. However, her efforts might be in vain when Reid’s sous chef is found dead in the alley behind the restaurant, and Reid is implicated in the murder. In order to save Reid, Parker will have to find the real killer, even if the truth is difficult to swallow.
Penguin Random House: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/621061/a-pairing-to-die-for-by-kate-lansing/