“I thought I knew this story!”

There’s nothing better to hear from readers than that. I’ve made it my job to delve into familiar stories and shine light into forgotten corners.

Maybe the reason I love that particular reaction so much is that it mirrors my own thrill at finding some little-known tidbit that brings a whole new perspective to the forefront. I thrive on research. Friends have called me a ‘method author.’ I want to stand where my characters stood, eat what they ate, wear what they wore. This is why I’ve brandished a hatchet and laced myself into a corset, why I can read Braille (very, very slowly) and speak Russian. It’s why I’ve slept in Lizzie Borden’s bedroom, and it’s also how I accidentally left my driver’s license at the public library in North Bay, Ontario.

These adventures are few and far between, though. This job is largely about tedium and stubbornness. It’s hours spent digitizing reels of microfilm and logging hundreds of newspaper articles into mammoth databases. It’s reading 2,578 pages of court transcripts. It’s waiting for months or years for that one elusive out-of-print source to finally appear on eBay.

All of this, so I can tell you a story in a voice you’ve never heard.

A Young Lizzie Borden circa 1880
A pile of research at the Library of Michigan