Researching Contemporary Fiction

On my instructor’s brochure for the Institute of Children’s Literature,  I have the following quote:

“Don’t just write what you know.  Write what you care about.  Pursue the subjects that fascinate you, and your passion will shine through to the reader.”

Yeah.  This recommendation does sound a bit highflown, but I believe in it completely.   I do write the things that I know about firsthand, of course. My first short story sale to HIGHLIGHTS blended a few events at a junior high track meet, and my first published novel was set in the Italian town where I lived for three and a half years.  But while I knew quite a bit about Merano, I had a lot to learn about soccer.  In order to make the sports action authentic, I talked to players, attended practices and went to games.  I got most of the things right, but did mess up on one thing.  (Oh, the pain!)

Now I’m in the middle of writing another contemporary novel, a YA mystery.  I love having the information of the internet at my fingertips.  In the last few days, I’ve checked out prom tuxedos, fancy St. Louis Restaurants, Victorian porches, white climbing roses, and sunrooms in order to make things as lively and authentic as possible.

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