But how do you know what you need to know?
Some folks would have a general idea going into researching an era. This would be the, um, sane approach. Yet how do you know what you need to know? There are the obvious—clothes, landscape, house design and layout, transportation, and ranks of nobility.
And these are great starting places.
Yet, to bring the time period alive, you need the little details that remain elusive in facts. That's why I love diaries and books that include letters and personal accounts. For Ghost of a Chance, I had this one fact about buttons. Buttons. We take them for granted, but my poor Victorian heroine had to snip off the buttons of one skirt and sew it on another skirt/blouse to wear the next morning. Buttons. That one act said so much about how little money she had and her self respect.
So I'm constantly searching for those little details to add a realistic layer to my books—something so humanizing that I won't ever forget my characters.
Still I have a hard time deciding when I've researched enough. Which to be frank will probably never happen. I have 50 more books to go (hey, there's lots of books that are out of copywrite and are available for free—which is my kind of crack). I'm pretty sure, I'm pursuing a PhD in the World War I era, but I think it's safe for me to start writing the series.
Especially since I've started arguing with the books I've been reading about facts they've left out:D