May 27, 2013 by Jen Cudmore
Research for The Lawmen of Clayton County:
When I first started writing this series, I knew it had to be set in the Pacific Northwest. As I wrote each scene, I could picture the area in my mind based off childhood memories of growing up in Klickitat County. But while I remember much of the terrain, I didn’t know much of the history.
As any historical fiction writer knows, the facts must be correct or the story will lose credibility. Convinced research wouldn’t be much fun, I braced myself for a boring venture.
I started off with a general internet search and discovered HistoryLink.org, an amazing website with an outline of Washington State History. I used this site as my starting point. From there I looked through other websites with more detail about people and places. I don’t recall all the sites I visited but it must’ve been dozens, from the Oregon Trail to the Long Beach Peninsula.
The internet is a wonderful tool but I still love the old-fashioned style of holding a book! I read through several books to get a feel for the old west and the expansion of settlers along the Columbia River. Later, as I delved into research on logging and Native Americans, I discovered many more interesting books. Two resources I found especially helpful were The American West by Dee Brown and Columbia River Gorge: Natural Treasure on the Old Oregon Trail by Cher Dohnal.
I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed myself! Now I don’t dread doing research. While I always feel the itch to get started on my story, I know I can’t proceed until I have my facts straight. And it’s more fun to write when you know what to say and don’t have to go look up a particular fact!