Friday, July 3, 2015

Liz Harris: Essential Research!

Liz Harris visits the blog today to show what hard work research can be when planning a novel.

Evie Undercover, a contemporary romantic comedy set in Umbria and London, is the first romantic comedy I’ve written. My previous full-length novels, The Road Back, A Bargain Struck, and Golden Tiger, which comes out in autumn 2015, are historical romantic fiction, so Evie Undercover was quite a departure.
Apart from the difference in tone, the greatest difference lay in the nature of my research. For my historical novels, I read up on the period, and in the case of A Bargain Struck, went to Wyoming to learn more than books alone could tell about the life-style of second generation homesteaders.
But for Evie Undercover, I had no need of historical tomes, visits to museums or hours spent in libraries--there was only one place I needed to go, and that was Umbria. Needs must, I nobly thought, and I packed my bags and headed for the airport, clutching an online ticket for Perugia.
I had my hero: handsome lawyer, Tom Hadleigh; I had my heroine, enterprising Evie Shaw, on her first assignment from Pure Dirt, the only magazine that would take her on after months of searching, so all I needed was the setting.
Forcing myself into restaurant after restaurant in order to decide where to send Tom and Evie; sitting in the piazza in the medieval town of Todi, sipping prosecco while watching the stone walls of the 14th century cathedral change colour during sunset; walking the streets of the ancient city of Perugia. Yes, there was nothing I wouldn’t undertake in the name of authenticity!
So I had my hero, my heroine and my setting—all I needed was a page-turning story. Evie and Tom gave me that. It started the first night they were in Italy. Anyone who could play the trick that Evie played on Tom… . But Evie had one week only in which to achieve her goal, and failure wasn’t in a word in her book!
When libel lawyer Tom Hadleigh acquires a perfect holiday home, a 14th century house that needs restoring, there’s a slight problem. The house is located in the beautiful Umbrian countryside and Tom can’t speak a word of Italian.
Enter Evie Shaw, masquerading as an agency temp, but in reality the newest reporter for gossip magazine Pure Dirt. Unbeknown to Tom, Italian speaking Evie has been sent by her manipulative editor to write an exposé on him. And the stakes are high – Evie’s job rests on her success.

Pour a glass of prosecco, sit back and enjoy. An ideal summer read!

About Liz:
Liz was born in London. After graduating with a Law degree, she moved to California where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company. When real life intervened, she returned to the UK, completed a degree in English and taught for a number of years.

Liz is published by Choc Lit. The Road Back, A Bargain Struck and Evie Undercover are published in paperback, and The Art of Deception and A Western Heart, a novella, are published as ebooks. She has a short story in each of the Choc Lit anthologies

Liz now lives in Oxfordshire. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Oxford Writers’ Group, and is the convenor of the Oxford Chapter of the RNA.

Twitter: @lizharrisauthor
Facebook: Liz Harris.
Liz, we thoroughly enjoyed your blog post. If the RNA blog falls silent it is because the team are on a world cruise planning our next novels…!
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Natalie Kleinman said...

Thank you for appearing on the blog, Liz. I'm full of admiration for your sacrifice. Should you need a research assistant for your next project you need only ask.

Merryn Allingham said...

I love Italy, love Umbria, so enjoyed reading about your arduous journey, Liz! I'm recently back from Lake Como,another great setting just waiting for a novel.

Sheryl Browne said...

I'm worn out just reading about it. Poor Liz. Haw, haw! Fabulous post, ladies. Liz this brings real life to Evie Under Cover. Love it. :) x

angela britnell said...

It's a lovely book and well worth all your hard efforts! You are such a martyr :)

Elaine Everest said...

A great plot, Liz!Note to self: Find a decent setting for my next book then go research!

Noelene said...

Enticingly entertaining, Liz. :) My bucket list just grew and I'm now keen to dip into your book!

John Jackson said...

Your self-sacrifice is plain for all to see. It does you great credit!

Lucliky the results make it all worth while

Unknown said...

You trooper! Great excuse for research ;-)

Sarah Tranter said...

What one does for their art :) Great post, Liz

Unknown said...

My pleasure, Natalie.

And how kind of you to offer to be my research assistant. But it's bad enough that one of us had to sacrifice herself thus; it would be far too much to expect that two should suffer so!

Unknown said...

Merryn - I'm afraid that don't know Lake Como, though it sounds magical. You'll have to write that book so that I can read it and be transported there without having to leave my armchair. :-).

Unknown said...

Sheryl, Angela, Noelene - many thanks for your lovely comments. Your appreciation of the lengths I went to makes such gruelling tasks like this so much more bearable. xxx

Unknown said...

Just Another Bloke, Kirsty and Sarah - Thank you very much for recognising my devotion to authenticity in writing. :-)

Your use of the word 'excuse', Kirsty, made me stop a moment in wonder! But then I realised that it was just a typo: the exc shouldn't have been there. You meant to say 'What a great use for research', I believe. :-)

Unknown said...

Thank you for your comment, Elaine - and it was tax deductible, too! But then there should be some reward when one goes to lengths such as those. :-)

Carol McGrath said...

A lovely piece of writing, Liz. I enjoyed reading this and yes, Evie Undercover is without doubt a perfect summer read.

Isabella Connor said...

Just caught up with this, Liz. I admire your tenacity. I'm a pretty useless researcher. I always seem to find totally conflicting information and end up either totally confused or making my mind up to follow a different course.

Liv x

Unknown said...

Many thanks for your lovely comment, Carol. :-)

Unknown said...

As an ex-teacher, Liv, I really miss the lesson-preparation involved in teaching - but not the marking, I hasten to say!! Researching my novels fills the gap that opened up when I stopped teaching, and I very much enjoy it, whether it's finding out how to make a bellini - and tasting it again and again and again,just to be sure - or digging into a book to see what I can discover.

Merryn Allingham said...

Interesting that so many writers of historical fiction were once teachers - it's the research that grabs me too!

Clare Chase said...

I’m halfway through Evie Undercover at the moment, Liz. I’m loving the storyline, and now I can see why the settings come to life so convincingly, too!

Charlotte Betts said...

It's a rubbish job being an author sometimes, isn't it? Am I jealous of your research trip? Hell, yes!