I have a lot of research to do for my next several books, and I'm going to start today, assuming the migraine that just eased up doesn't flare up again. Once the small one starts back to preschool in September, I hope to move forward without all the starts and stops I've had over the last several months.
My next several novels are set in Appalachia. My plan is to immerse myself in Appalachian and Cherokee culture and literature so I don't misrepresent any facts.
Yesterday, I purchased a copy of Up From These Hills: Memories of a Cherokee Boyhood by Leonard Carson Lambert, Jr. It's a memoir of a Cherokee man who grew up in the reservation in North Carolina and also lived outside the reservation in the hills of Tennessee in the 1930's and 1940's, the location and time period where one of my novels is going to be set. The purpose of the memoir seems to be to debunk the stereotypes about Cherokee Indians. It's definitely an interesting read.
I thought the research I need to do would be relatively easy. After all, we should be able to find any kind of public information on the internet, right? The Tennessee State Library has information, but the web site only lists what they have on site, and some of the materials are restricted to Tennessee residents. Kind of lame in my opinion.
The National Archives located in DC and Atlanta have original documents, like the census lists for Cherokees before and after the Trail of Tears. But it's on microfilm. Anyone can order the microfilm via an online form (it's really expensive), but then you need a reader to read it. Do they not have interns to digitize the microfilm??
I definitely need to do a road trip or two. I looked into flying to the county in Tennessee where my first novel is set so I can be sure to get descriptions of the landforms right (although this may be an area where strip mining and mountaintop removal have severely changed the landscape), but the nearest airport is over an hour away. I may as well drive and take my time getting there. I was also disappointed to find that there aren't any hotels that don't look terrifying (think Psycho or Motel Hell).
I've had a great time with my kids this summer, but I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to work.
Have you had to do research for your work? Any suggestions? Anyone know where I can get a microfilm reader?