The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

My Debut Guest Blogger - Cate Masters!

Please give warm welcome and whopping round of applause to my very first guest blogger, the lovely Cate Masters! YAY!! It's lovely to have you here, Cate and I'm looking forward to reading your post and checking out your (many!) releases.

Unearthing Treasures through Research
Hi, my name is Cate, and I’m a research junkie. I admit it. I get carried away with research—or vice versa. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Case in point: a few years ago, my family vacationed at Key West, Florida. The island’s surrounded by a clear aqua-green sea and is so steeped in history, its streets almost seem like characters. While visiting a maritime museum, a story flashed in my head, and I spent the next two days in the Key West library copying articles and letters from the 1800s while my family went parasailing and snorkeling. Do I regret it? Not in the least. I knew I wouldn’t be getting back there any time soon, so finding that information felt like unearthing sunken treasure. I was fascinated by the history of the wreckers, men who salvaged wrecked ships long before any diving equipment had been invented. All the careful research paid off. Soon Freya’s Bower will publish Angels, Sinners and Madmen, my historical romance adventure novel.

No matter what genre I’m writing in, I always research some aspect of the story. Authenticating details help bring the setting into the reader’s imagination. A few stories are set in cities I know well, but others are in places that fit the story, or I wish I could go! Such as Hawaii, or in my last novel, Malibu. Adding authenticating details for locations I’ve never visited is easy. If the Internet doesn’t provide all the information I need, I send for a Visitor’s Guide to the city to learn its restaurants, museums, clubs and other hot spots and get a feel for the place. For my contemporary Wilderness Girl, I had to brush up on my camping info, and learn a bit about recycled art.
Having a myriad of jobs surrounding the media gave me insight into inner workings of government press offices, television stations, newspapers and their related association groups. This experience came in handy for my contemporary novella, Picture This, which I also set in Pennsylvania’s capitol, where I worked for many years. Two other stories, Seventh Heaven and The Bridge Between, I set in my hometown of Lambertville, New Jersey, so adding accurate setting detail was much easier. :)
Sometimes you can find details in unlikely places. A recent issue of National Geographic Traveler unearthed a golden nugget of information about guitars, which I gladly snapped up for my latest novel, too – about a rock star.
One of the worst pieces of advice to writers is: write what you know. How would anyone ever stretch the limits of their imagination following that adage? There would be no speculative fiction, no fantasy, no scifi. The writer would get bored silly in a hurry. And when the writer’s bored, so will the reader be.

So I say: Let your writing take you to places you only dreamed of visiting, or that might never exist if you didn’t create them. Your readers will thank you! And your imagination will reward you with more ideas.

Great post, Cate! Any comments from readers or writers alike will be appreciated - check out everything about Cate at


  1. Thanks so much for having me Rachel! I'm honored to be your first guest. :)

  2. As always, wonderful post, Cate!


  3. Aw thanks Maggie! You're the best!

  4. Hello Cate!

    Looks as though you use every opportunity to research, including holidays. I'm the same, and life is so much more interesting now I'm a writer! For e.g.I didn't choose to spend time in museums in my past life, and (idle) people-watching is now an exercise in picking up body language. Also, my attitude towards negative events has changed - I now use them as fodder for my writing instead of letting them depress and upset me - now I think: Good - I can use that experience for my characters.
    Cherie Le Clare.

  5. I agree, Cherie! It's so much better to flip negative situations like that, too, isn't it? Thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. Hey Cate, it's always great to read one of your blogs.
    I wish I was good at research, it's my nemesis!

  7. Mary! Thanks so much for stopping by. You have a great imagination, so that trumps research. :)

  8. Great, great blog! And I'm so ashamed to admit that I had a head-thunking-I-could've-had-a-V8 moment. I had never thought of sending off for visitor's guides to help gather information about a location!! *shakes head sadly at myself*

    But I will from now on! Thanks for the great insight!!

  9. Thanks much, Alannah! The danger of visitor's guides is that it makes me want to visit for real! But it does help. And I love National Geographic Traveler for great little details you can't find elsewhere.

  10. Hi Cate! Loved your post. And you're a fellow "Jersey Girl"! Your passion for research/exploration is inspiring. Nothing better, as fiction readers, to immerse in an author's world. You are so talented!

  11. Hi Cate,
    I'm a research maniac also, so I know the feeling. My only problem is, I get so immersed, rapt by what I'm learning, I don't know when to come up for air. lol.