One of the most common questions I get from readers of Forever With You, is, “How’d you know so much about wine?” It’s true, I was a wine lover before I started writing this book, and even chose a vineyard setting because of all the ‘write what you know’ advice out there. But what I knew nothing about, was growing grapes, so today, we’re talking research.
It was really important to me to get the setting right. I studied the parts of the vine, researched regions and weather statistics. Who knew you could learn so much about topography and soil characteristics and climate? And what I retained only scratched the surface.
I went looking through some old notes recently and found what I remember thinking of as a gold mine when I stumbled on it in a google search back in 2013. "The Grape Chronicles" was a series of blog posts by Rick VanSickle (Wines in Niagara) following Vineland Estate's "Grape X" on it's journey from vine to bottle. I became fascinated with these posts. They provided such a unique vantage point-the closest thing to actually being there that I had while trying to capture what would be going on in a vineyard and when. I stumbled on Brian Schmidt's #twactortweets too, around the same time, which also provided a day to day glimpse into the very world I was writing about.
Though it may all be background stuff in the actual book, this information played a huge role in the story, not only in understanding Jay’s job, and describing what would be happening at Wynter Estate, but also the parallels between Jay and Leyna’s relationship, and the growth cycle of the grapes. The craziest part of all, is that I completely forgot I still had all this stuff. So a huge thank you to Rick and Brian for putting this together all those years ago. I bet you never in your wildest dreams thought it would help someone write a romance novel!
I’m all for writing what you know. The thing is though, if you’re like me, writing what you know can only carry you so far, because in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t know all that much! That’s why research is so important. I was faced with this problem again when I started working on Only For You (Book 2). I found myself with a main character (Tim) that was already established in Book 1 as a Former US Navy Officer. Talk about feeling like I had to cram for a topic I knew nothing about! But that’s a whole other story that I’ll post about in detail some other time.