Saturday, June 9, 2012

Author Blog Challenge # 8

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book?

My research method is less of a defined process and more of a foray into the world of the unknown, a magical mystery tour that stops almost at will to disgorge its cargo of facts and revelations. To use The Hidden Risks as the subject book for these challenges, the research involved:
  • ·         Interviewing family members, including extended family
  • ·         Reference section of the library and visits to regional libraries
  • ·         Australian digital online newspapers - Trove
  • ·         Cemetery Trusts
  • ·         Undertakers’ records
  • ·         Local hospital archives
  • ·         Convict and shipping records

Travel included visits to interview family members and to places mentioned in the book, home sites, churches, cemeteries; walking in the footsteps of the past to connect it with the present. One memorable day we combined a visit to a family member, who had lived in the area his whole life, with a tour of the district. He gave a running commentary on the family as we drove, with stories attached to each stopping point. It was like stepping back through the generations, greeting each and taking them with us as we moved on to the next. Standing in a paddock circled with daffodils, planted by my husband’s great grandmother was an evocative moment, and a visit to the homestead where his great great grandfather had been assigned as a convict crossed the divide between the living and the dead. While we know the genetics of family continue, I felt links to the spirit were just as tangible, walking with us and leading the way. I also learnt that research is as much about intuition as it is about facts, figures and hard data.

Another touching of spirits came when we were searching the free ground (pauper’s burial ground) for his grandmother’s grave site; her presence so strong I had no doubt when I found the exact place of her rest – or unrest as I felt it to be at that time. On investigation, we found the remains of a porcelain grave marker almost buried in the gravelly soil and further research of old records proved this to be the site.

The internet played a huge role in the research. On line newspapers provide access to records of day to day life, births, deaths and marriages, court appearances and land deals, and community happenings. This is the glue binds the history together in an incontrovertible package. I also used the internet to find and connect historical events and world happenings, to give a greater sense of time and place to the story.

~ Merlene Fawdry


  1. Congratulations on another good insight into writing family history, you have managed to engage the reader by showing the connections between the spirits of your forebears and your relatives

  2. Wow. That's a lot of research! But it sounds SO fun! I would love to do something like that. Sounds like a GREAT read! WRITE ON!


For some reason I'm yet to fathom I'm unable to reply to comments left by others so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to read and comment. Merlene