veterinarian with a horse

1000 Pages of Research – Part Two

 June 3, 2021

As a life-long learner, I love the research involved with writing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction. Some books require more research than others. That was the case with my latest book, Amazing. Or, as I wrote in my blog post about the research I did for An Irish Slip Step, 1000 Pages of Research Equals Two Pages of Story.

James Herriot

Who can write a book about a veterinarian without going back to the quintessential veterinarian, James Herriot? I began my research by reading the first three books in his series:  All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful.

Yes, veterinary medicine has changed massively since then, as has human medicine. Still the human elements of relationships between animals and their people, as well as people and their vet, remain the same. Herriot’s books are full of quirky and wonderful stories about animals and the people who interact with them. That was what I was looking for in reading these books and it is what I got.

Off to the Library

Then I searched my local library for books on veterinarians and found four books: The Accidental Veterinarian by Philip Schott, Becoming A Veterinarian by Boris Kachka, My Patients Like Treats – Tales from a House Call Veterinarian by Duncan McVean, and If Wishes Were Horses: The Education of a Veterinarian by Loretta Gage.

When I realized horses were going to play a central role in the book, I checked out a book by Buck Brannaman and his journey to became a horse whisperer, The Faraway Horses.

On To the Internet

The internet provides a writer with extensive valuable information without having to leave home, something convenient over the past year of the pandemic. I spent hours searching the internet for information on twin births in horses as well as information on the gestation and birthing of foals, particularly problems with births. More hours were spent watching vides on horse training using “horse whispering”. I even found videos of a horse whisperer in France, Jean Francois Pignon, who rides horse barefoot (which I mention in my book).

Bringing It All Together

Armed with all of my research, I crafted my story. Much of my research never appears in the book. Such is the nature of this research. What I was doing was getting a feel for the topic. From there I added detail. At times I used poetic license to create a better story, but everything in the book was based on what I read in books and online, plus my own personal experience with my pets over the years and veterinarians.

I picked the best stories from the veterinarian books I read and gave them my own twists. Yes, there was a story of a vet leaving a home in the middle of the night after tending a dog that had been hit by a car. He heard the other animals wail and saw a wisp of smoke coming out of the chimney as he left, letting him know the dog had died. I didn’t have to make up this and other stories in the book. Real life is amazing on its own.

Then, I sent the book to a friend of mine, a horse trainer, to check for mistakes. She uses the techniques in the book with her horses.

1000 Pages of Research

Research is not meant to be in your face in a novel. And yet it is essential. Out of those thousands of pages (and videos) of research, I don’t know if I have ten full pages of story line. Still the research permeates the book and shows up in small details here and there to keep the book interesting. I do the heavy lifting so that my readers can enjoy the story.

Interested in reading Amazing? It is now available in print or ebook through Amazon and in other digital stores. Happy reading.


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