Normally, I write historical romance, which requires extensive research into costume, social policies, where Wellington and Napoleon were at the date of my story, and whether Drury Theater had just burned down again or not. This can be an incredible amount of work, but once it’s done, it’s done. Napoleon does not unexpectedly move from that place in history and reappear ten years later as a senator instead of a king.
Then I started writing contemporary romance and mysteries. Stupidly, I thought it would cut down on research, and I’d be able to meet deadlines a little easier. Stupid in so many ways that I can’t cover all the flaws in my thinking! First off, there are people working in the industries I want to write about, and they know a heck of a lot more than I do, so the research has to be incredibly intense to hone every detail or I get whacked upside the head. And I am soooo not a detail person.
Worse, though, is that over these last few decades, technology and politics have made giant leaps with every passing day. The mystery series I plotted right after 9/11 was already almost outdated by the time the first book was written. I had to do a major rewrite when I got ready to publish it years after that. Now that I’m finally finishing the second book, that tragedy was several administrations and almost a generation ago. How do I reconcile the changes between Book One and Book Two when the stories form a consecutive time line? (And if you say “write faster,” I’ll reach through the computer and kick you! I’m writing two and a half books a year and fitting these in between.)
It’s bad enough when I reissue my older contemporary romances where the characters could have saved themselves a lot of time and plot space if they’d just used their cell phones (or heaven forbid, their smart phones now!)—except they hadn’t been invented when I wrote the story. With a little practice, updating technology is doable. (My computer genius in the first mystery who was so proud of her USB memory drive back in 2001 would look pretty stupid bragging about it today)
But current events can’t be rewritten the way technology can, unless I’m allowed to re-write history. The antagonist of EVIL GENIUS cannot still be mourning the wife he lost in 9/11 in the book I’m writing now, or he’ll be a middle-aged curmudgeon stuck in the past—not precisely the hero I’m aiming for.
I’m contemplating creating a fantasy world where everything stays the same no matter what year it is. Anyone got a better suggestion?