Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My Favorite Thing About Writing...

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I love being a writer…I mean, what’s not to love? I get to sit at my computer all day wearing my pajamas and eating bonbons whilst playing spider solitaire in between writing sessions. How many other people can use the word whist and come off as witty and not pretentious? Let’s face it, you pretty much have to be a writer in order to pull that off.

One of my favorite things about writing is research. Now, if you’re picturing me in some dark and dusty library, you’re way off base. No, I have my own form of research. I like to immerse myself in it 100%.

A little over a month ago I sat in my office trying to work. It was a Sunday morning and the whole family—three teenagers, the dog, my three-legged cat, my husband and even my daughter’s best friend and our neighbor— saw fit to join me. I typed away, writing my book and doing my best to ignore the fact that everyone was doing the utmost to make it an impossible endeavor, my husband piped up. “I have this plane ticket to use by the 12th or we’ll lose it. Robin, maybe you should take a weekend trip to Boise.” My head peeked up over my monitor. “Really?” I asked. My fingers flew across the keyboard, bringing up the airline’s website. One quick call to my best friend in Boise and a ticket was purchased for the weekend two weeks hence. After all, I had a conference that next weekend, and really, the only thing better than a conference weekend is a research weekend.

My next series of books, Domestic Gods Gone Wild take place in and around Boise, so I really did have research to do, so off to Boise I flew. My friend picked me up at the airport and we headed down Capital Boulevard toward downtown. It was a beautiful fall evening and everyone was out and about enjoying First Thursday. We ate a delightful meal outside the Bitter Creek Ale House, drinking in the beer…um I mean atmosphere. When my friend asked what I wanted to do during my stay. I told her that I had to go to Humpin’ Hannah’s—the real bar my fictional favorite character, Karma Kincaid owns in my books. This was work, you know. I did my best to look put upon as I watched the people come and go. I breathed the fresh dry air and thought I never wanted to leave.

A few months before, I had been going over my copy edits for Yours for the Taking, and it occurred to me that since I planned to have Karma own Humpin’ Hannah’s—the absolute coolest bar in Boise—I might need the permission of the owners. I called my editor and sure enough, she confirmed my fear. I racked my brain to come up with another name for the bar I loved so much, but they all paled in comparison. You gotta’ admit that Humpin’ Hannah’s is a pretty amazing name. So, I picked up the phone and called the bar to ask the owners if I could have permission to use the bar’s name in the book.

Darcy, Todd, and Dick, the owners of Humpin’ Hannah’s, were wonderful and gave me permission, thus putting my editor’s mind at ease. I promised I’d send them a box of books, and buy some of the Humpin’ Hannah’s t-shirts to give away on my blog tour. Todd sent a release to my editor and made me promise to stop in the next time I was in town.

That very next day, my friend and I headed to Hannah’s to fulfill my promise. I had an advanced readers copy of Yours for the Taking in which Humpin’ Hannah’s was featured and containing my thanks for the use of their wonderful bar in the acknowledgements. I walked under the Humpin’ Hannah’s flag I remembered so well, and into the brick front bar on Main Street—one of my favorite places in Boise. I went right up to the bar and asked if Todd was there. A nice looking-guy smiled and shook his head. “No, Todd’s not working today.” I was bummed. I mean, there I was all the way from Maryland and the first time up at base I struck out. I put the book down on the bar. “I’m Robin Kaye, the author, and I’m in town for a few days…” The man turned beat red. “Oh my God.” He said. “I’m Todd. I thought you were here to sell me something. I almost told you my name was Ernie, he’s our janitor.”

Todd, Dick, and Darcy, were all in attendance that afternoon which was an oddity.

I took pictures, had a few drinks with the regulars, and even scored hockey tickets to a Stealhead game! The Stealheads won 5 – 3, there were a lot of good fights (the sign of a great hockey game) and even few gushers which was awesome because we had seats in the second row on the center line just above the players so we saw everything.

I rounded out the weekend driving through Boise, looking longingly at the foothills and wishing I had a few more days to take a trip in the mountains. We watched the Boise State Bronco’s annihilate Toledo 57-14 in Bronco Stadium—the stadium my husband built,
ate at Goldy’s and Bar Gernika in the Basque area, and I longed to move back.

Like after all great research trips, I came home with a lot of new ideas, a bunch of T-shirts to give away on my blog tour which begins next month, and a renewed sense that I am truly doing what I’m meant to be doing; writing in my pajamas and dreaming of other places I want to research. Next Stop: Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY!


Christie Craig said...

Now that's my kind of research!!!!!!!!!!!

Margaret said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic trip! If only all research could be so enjoyable!

krisgils33 said...

what a great story! thanks for sharing!!

Laura said...

Totally cool research, Robin!

So far, mine is all for info from 230 years ago, so it tends to not be done in Humpin' Hannah's, darn it!

My son just moved to Brooklyn. So - what's Red Hook?


Robin Kaye said...

Hi Christie~ I do try my best to make my work fun!

Margaret- It was a great trip.

Kris~Thanks for stopping by!

TerriOsburn said...

That sounds like a blast. Man, you fit a ton of stuff into a few days.

The hero of my first MS is a former pro baseball player who I might mention played for the Tampa Bay Rays. I think I should fly to Florida and ask all the guys if they mind this reference.

All in the name of research, of course. Though my next WIP is set on Ocracoke Island, a place I've been before and intend to go back for more detailed research. Thankfully, it's just a short drive from here. Anyone up for a road trip?

Robin Kaye said...

Laura~ Ah but you have a built in excuse to go to Scotland or England, right? One must tromp through castles to get the feel of the place. Your excuse beats mine hands down!

Red Hook is the section of Brooklyn that's across from Governors Island and just south of the Southern-most tip of Manhattan and the only part of America that the Statue of Liberty faces.

It's on the waterfront, the docks are there and a lot of longshoremen. Up until recently it was one of the worst sections of Brooklyn and it's now making a resurgence. I've picked Red Hook for the location of my next series--we'll see if I can sell it.

Robin Kaye said...

Oh, Terri! I'm so up for a road trip! Ocracoke Island looks amazing. I've never been to the Outer Banks--I'm a Hampton's and Jersey Shore girl (and no, not the kind you see on TV). DH and I have been wanting to go explore the OB, maybe I should tag along with you and report back to him.

TerriOsburn said...

OBX definitely is the place to see. You wouldn't think there would be that much to do on a barrier reef, but I love it. Ocracoke is pretty far down and I love driving my car onto the ferry then riding over to the island. Such a relaxing vacation spot!

You and kiddo can fight for who rides shotgun. LOL!

Leslie Langtry said...

Robin, I want to go to there! Sounds like you had a great time!

Wendy Roberts said...

What fun!! You've definitely got me aching to go for a research trip :)

Robin Kaye said...

Leslie~ Boise is always a blast, especially when Humpin' Hannah's starts rockin' and the Bronco's are undefeated, I think they have been for the past 3 or 4 years. There's nothing like having the best quarterback in college football!

I can't wait to go back!

Wendy~ I'm always ready. It's a great time and tax deductible. A win-win situation.

Christi Barth said...

My next book features a chocolate maker as the hero - there are so many gourmet chocolatiers online that I'm going to be forced to research!

Adele Dubois said...

Sounds like a fantastic research trip! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Boise. Who woulda' thought Boise could be so much fun?


Laura said...

Hi, Robin,

So far my books are set in Vermont in the 1770s, so no foreign travel - but that's a great suggestion!!


Robin Kaye said...

Christi--I'd be making reservations for a trip to Brussels, Belgium Chocolate is the best, you know. And what good is learning on line? It's not as if you can dip your finger in the computer and lick the bowl, now can you?

Adele~ Boise is pretty amazing. I love that you can be downtown and eating fabulous food on a heated outdoor patio with great views of the mountains and in a half hour you could be up on the top of Bogus Basin with a 2000 foot vertical drop skiing powder. There's the Symphony, the opera, the ballet and all the outdoor sports you can imagine. They don't call it the Treasure Valley for nothin'.

Laura~ I'm always glad to help. :)

Keely Thrall said...

I want a Humpin' Hannah's T-shirt!! The bar sounds wicked cool.

As a teenager I told my mom I wanted to visit Idaho b/c it sounded like the most boring place on Earth. She said, "Actually, Keely, it's quite beautiful." So for the last 20 years I've wanted to visit Idaho b/c it's beautiful. Different reason, same desire. Maybe *I* need to set a book there...I could really get behind your kind of research, Robin!

Diane Garner said...

I have a lot to learn from you, Robin. I should've taken a trip to Maui when I was writing Hawaiian Heat. Bummer! I do have an idea for a sequel...

Diana Cosby said...

LOL Robin, I so took notes on 'how' to research! That's right, I'm using 'em all when I head to Scotland! ^5 Thanks for sharing and the smiles! *Hugs*

Miriam Newman said...

What great "research," Robin! We should all be so lucky.

Robin Kaye said...

Keely~ Idaho is beautiful, but it's a well-kept secret. I've been going there since I was six years old and fell in love with it. When I was 8 I told my father I was going to live in Boise, he said "What the heck are you going to do in Boise, you're from Brooklyn?" When I got married, we honeymooned in Sun Valley and as we were driving back to the Boise airport, I told my DH I never wanted to go home. We moved to Boise about 9 months later. We lived there for 10 wonderful years and ended up moving away for a job. We're counting the days until we move back. We have about 4 1/2 years to go.

As for a Humpin' Hannah's T-shirt. Be sure to follow my blog tour which starts 12/15. I'll be giving them out to lucky winners!

Diane~ A sequel sounds like a great idea!

Diana~ Um, you might think about hiring a research assistant for your trip to Scotland. I'm available and would be happy to go.

Miriam~ Thanks so much for stopping by! I figure God gave us a great imagination, we might as well use it to think up new and interesting ways to research our work.

Diana Cosby said...

LOL, Robin. You wouldn't believe how many volunteers I've had to go with me on my book signing tour Scotland in July, 2012. Wait, I bet you would. :)

My sincere best to you always! ^5