Wine Tasting, Sex Calls … I’m Researching a Book
by Michelle Holman
I’d like to be able to say I plan my books but the truth is they tend to plan themselves, however there are benefits to this. I had to (had to) research professional basketball for my last book (Barefoot) which meant I had to sit and watch a lot of very tall, very fit men pound around the basketball court. My heart was thumping and my eyes were worn out keeping track of them all.
I usually run my ideas for storylines past my husband first who listens patiently and invariably says, “Sounds great. What do you know about that industry/situation/theme?” To which I invariably answer, “Nothing, I’ll do some research.” He was thrilled when I announced I was going to research the dominatrix telephone sex industry for my second book, Divine, and kept offering to play the caller if I needed to practise. Whenever I mention this at any publicity events it’s amazing how all the men sit up straight and pay close attention.
I get to travel when I do research. A couple of years ago, I went to Otago in the South Island of New Zealand to visit a cherry orchard and find out more about the industry. There are few things prettier than a cherry orchard, and there’s something very sexy about blossoms, fruit, and men and women fighting each other and the elements at two o’clock in the morning while helicopters fly overhead. While I was there I entered the annual cherry pit-spitting competition and got beaten by a six-year-old who took her nana with her when she went to “spit” because she was so shy.
More recently, I’ve been at a vineyard in Marlborough which is the setting for the book I’m writing at the moment and the second of what I call my “soldier” books (the first, Hand Me Down, is set in the cherry orchard). Wandering along rows of vines in brilliant sunshine while being encouraged to sample sauvignon blanc/chardonnay/merlot/pinot gris/pinot noir grapes is no hardship. The difference between me and the professionals is I don’t spit the grapes out – they’re too luscious. At no point was I on holiday, I had a job to do, and my research is ongoing. If you could see my wine rack, you’d understand I’m telling the truth.
Michelle Holman lives in New Zealand and writes contemporary women’s romance with less-than-perfect heroes and heroines and happy endings. She is published by HarperCollins in NZ and Australia, and Droemer in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Her most recent book, Barefoot, was released at the end of 2010 and has spent 15 weeks on the NZ bestseller list. Hand Me Down is due out at the end of 2011. She is currently writing her sixth book.