Saturday, October 21, 2006

Victoria Bylin: Arbuckle's vs. Starbuck's

In addition to writing westerns, I'm working on a mainstream contemporary. You'd think the research would be easier, but it's not. With westerns, I pull a few books off the shelf, browse for pictures of heroes and items from everyday life, and use the research to inspire the plot. I'm currently working on a story set on a dairy farm. I had no idea cows were so much work! As I make discoveries, the research brings energy to the story.

With the contemporary, the ideas and knowledge come from personal experience. I've never tasted Arbuckle's coffee, but I've had plenty of Starbuck's. It's easy to incorporate setting details. They're everywhere. What's difficult is keeping up with the changing pace of our world. Cell phones, digital cameras, DVD's . . . What's common today can be dated in less than a year.

Maybe that's part of the magic of historicals. We go back to a simpler time, one that's full of magic and discovery but more stable than our current world. I like that. I also like my microwave. Life without the internet? No way! Washing clothes by hand? Making soap? No thank you. I'd rather head to Walmart. I love visiting the Old West, but I'm glad for modern conveniences.


Michelle Willingham said...

I love the aspects of hard work in the Old West, but at the same time, I greatly appreciate air conditioning and heating! :) There's a different spirit of survival there, though, that's lacking in today's world.

Charlene Sands said...

Vicki -- for me it's indoor plumbing! Have to have it.

But I do agree, sometimes it's easier to do research for westerns than write a contemporary. Everything is in books, museums, internet sites and has been documented. There's nothing "new" really. In today's world we have to rely on our children sometimes for the coolest slang and most up to date technology!