The Thing I Do For Research.

 Pat Davids here. Happy Spring.

If you want to be a writer, or you are a writer, you have to be prepared to do some research. I always knew that. Happily for me, I love research. Hours and hours in the library, pouring through old books. Finding out wonderful facts. That's real fun.

 As it turns out, sitting in the library will only get you so far when it comes to writing realistically about something you aren't familiar with. Take the Amish. There's still a lot I don't know about the Amish even after 12 books in my Brides of Amish Country series. Their culture is so diverse that what works for an Amish romance set in Ohio won't necessarily work for a story set in Pennsylvania.

Because I didn't want a dozen books about farmers and quilters, I had to investigate business run by Amish families. There are a few. I've been to visit an alpaca farm, ridden in a buggy, sat behind a draft horse in a wagon, took a tour of a printing press company and museum. I've visited a fabric shop and quilt store in an Amish community, visited with Old Order Mennonite women at a family run café, spent hours talking to my nephew's wife about being a nurse-midwife, and I even interviewed the cutest small town sheriff ever. (If I get arrested, it will be in Council Grove.) I have watched a buggy wheel being made in a blacksmith shop and seen a huge sewing machine for making leather harnesses.
In all, less than one tenth of what I've learned goes into any given book. But they don't call me the trivia queen for nothing. Just ask me. I'm sure I'll have an answer and if I don't, I will make one up. I write fiction, you know.

 For my latest book, THE SHEPHERD'S BRIDE, I have the privilege of visiting a sheep farm during lambing season. Talk about hard work, awesome dogs and cute, cuddly baby lambs. I will admit that a baby alpaca won my heart, but a baby lamb comes in a close second.

So I'm going to open it up to questions here. What would you like to know about the Amish, sheep or even alpacas?
Did you know sheep can be buried under the snow for nearly a week and survive? The heat from their bodies will melt breathing holes. They'll dig down to grass or eat each other's wool for food and they can get enough water by eating snow? Boggles the mind.


jel said...

read your book, it was very good!

Pat Davids said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked my story. It's very kind of you to say so.

Sharon N said...

I love doing research. I make notes while writing. Before I begin writing the next day, I look up what was on my mind. Sometimes I stay there too long. I will read about the topic I want to know about and then I find I'm looking up something else.
Thanks for sharing.

Rox Delaney said...

Pat, I already come to you with questions. Not only about Amish, but other things, but even not writing related! You've always been happy to help and always do.

I, too, find I can lose myself in research and will go back to find new things I might have missed. Like your experience, only a tiny part of the research appears in books. But, oh, how it's all fun to learn! You've done the bestest things. I bow to you. :)

Joan Vincent said...

Did not know sheep would eat each other;s wool. Did know that lambing time is a huge drag on time and energy for the humans involved, probably the same for the sheep and then some. Thinking about women run Amish businesses --how autonomous are Amish women?

Pat Davids said...

Joan, the Amish exist as a tight-knit community within each church group. If you think of what was permitted for women 200 years ago, that's their ideal now.
Marriage tops the list.

They can own property. A few run their own businesses, but they most often work in a family based/shared business.

Independence is frowned up but because more Amish boys leave the faith than women, they have more single women than single men and these women are finding employment rather than marriage.

Joan Vincent said...

Thanks Pat. They have more freedom than I thought they might.

Unknown said...

I love hearing about your research. You retain more than most people can take it. (Mostly me, lol) I always know where to come for answers.

Thanks for being a wealth of information!!

Nina Sipes said...

I think it's wonderful that sheep can survive that. I don't know how you managed to go up close to them. My preferred distance is about two miles upwind.
Why do they do the ghost jumping thing? Where one jumps over nothing and then many else jump over nothing in the same spot?