6 Fun/Interesting Research Discoveries

Researching this series was fun, exhaustive and exhausting, but always interesting. We’ve come up with 6 fun or interesting things we discovered while researching Diamonds Down Under.

Bronwyn: You know the hardest part about this blog piece? Deciding on one fun or interesting thing from all the cool research for this series. I started a list: conflict diamonds, Argyle pinks, uber-rare greens, diamond cutting in India, famous diamond houses, the ice roads to Canada’s mines, choosing a private jet, the rate of body decomposition in warm water.  Loads and loads of fascinating stuff, so my list grew and grew and still I couldn’t decide.  In the end I decided to go for fun and to choose a simple piece of trivia, and not only so I could use this picture. 

Did you know that the best way to preserve your diamond’s sparkle is to soak it in vodka? 

Tessa: Okay. I admit it, I like graveyards, particularly old graveyards. In the daytime they can be beautiful, peaceful places. At night the same spot might be lonely…ghostly…spooky. But every cemetery has its own atmosphere and character. I love reading the old, leaning headstones and trying to figure the stories behind the engraved words.

I’d never been to Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney where Maxine suggested Howard Blackstone’s funeral would take place, but I knew that it would have its own character. Dating back to 1868 it’s one of the largest Victorian era cemeteries in the world. I found a map online, discovered the winding roads, the old section of the cemetery, and saw that there was a large section with war graves—something I always find heart-wrenching. I contacted Friends of Rookwood who advised that the war graves would be visible to Jessica and Ryan on entering the gates.

One photo of Rookwood with a stretch of curving road with the palms in the distance and rows of agapanthus along the Serpentine Canal caught my eye—so that went into PRIDE & A PREGNANCY SECRET too. I learned that magpies, ravens, white crested cockatoos and my personal favourite, kookaburras, live in the trees—I love their distinctive slightly insane giggle so felt quite comfortable describing it. Rookwood is also home to many varieties of trees among them Norfolk Island Pines, Canary Island Palms, Eucalyptus and Cedars of Lebanon.

And I even learned that the Aussie slang expression ‘crook as Rookwood’ to describe feeling ill came from the name of the cemetery. That’s one of my best parts of writing—all the new weird (mostly weird this time!) and wonderful things you discover!

Maxine: While it was great fun researching the likes of diamonds, settings, family dynamics, I find it fascinating to look back and see exactly how much research went into this series. And it was a LOT. Thanks to the Yahoo Group that Yvonne set up for the 6 of us back in March 2006, it’s easy to see that in the intervening two years we’ve populated it with approximately 5,900 messages. Like the ebbing of the tide, there were some months that were quieter than others, other months where we stormed our brains out. There were brief emails asking just a question, and lengthy emails with suggestions and opinions attached to the original message until it turned into a game of who said what.

And try to remember that when you’re in the middle of writing another book, or a couple of months have passed before you need that information again, it got pretty crazy at times. Then there were the messages celebrating good news like the senior editor had approved someone’s synopsis, and the messages commiserating the not-so-good when one of us had revisions to do. At the most, in one month we managed 721 messages. Not bad for just six of us. All in all, it was definitely a unique experience that showed me one thing in particular. Putting a story together was hard work, but putting six of them together was a miracle.

Jan: The most fun and hands-on research for me was a visit to a local manufacturing jeweller who specialises in diamonds. I sat across from Richard as he idly toyed with tweezers and a pile of diamonds on his desk, and gave me all sorts of fascinating facts about sourcing, designing and cutting – and the cleaning of his office when he drops a diamond on the floor and can’t find it! Then he invited me to peek over the shoulders of his three jewellers as they fashioned some lovely diamond rings. I took notes on the tools and technology used and the impressive security measures necessary for an operation like this.

I also got my old solitaire cleaned for the first time in forever and was told it was ‘disgustingly’ dirty! It was a fun day. What was meant to be an hour turned into four and I got caught up in their enthusiasm and passion for jewellery. I brought them some wine and muffins, but writing this article has just reminded me that I promised them a couple of books when it finally came out.

Paula: A few interesting facts spring to mind about the research I did for the series – and the first two relate directly to my writer’s brain 🙂  The first is that diamonds can actually come from outer space (imagine the stories you could tell – precious stones, warring worlds, greedy kings and noble warriors…)  The other is that missing diamond from the bonnet of Klien’s car in the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. 

This picture, courtesy of Jaguar racing, says: Gentlemen, if you would please empty your pockets… Christian Klien in the wall and missing a precious diamond!  Paula says: Ahh, I think I’m going to have to tell the “real” story about that missing diamond sometime in the future…!

And lastly, thanks to the wonderful Andrew Burden from Canberra’s Aviation Search and Rescue Centre who answered all my questions about planes crashing into the coastal waters of Australia (did you know there’s a trench a couple of miles off the coast and if you crash in there, there’s no hope of recovery?), how long it would take for someone to respond, who could survive, how long government departments would search before giving up etc etc. 

Yvonne: What I enjoyed the most about researching for the continuity was discovering how many experts in their field are incredibly forthcoming with information when they realise you genuinely are researching for a book and are not just yanking their chain. I admit I was at the receiving end of a bit of scepticism from the Co-ordinator of the Diving Unit, Marine Area Command NSW Police, but once he was assured of our intention to find out what was realistically involved in the recovery of bodies that had been trapped in a wreck in the sea for some time he was a fount of information.

Also, too, the Crim Trac scientist, who gave me amazing detail as to the identification process required for those fictional bodies, which obviously wouldn’t have a visibly identifiable characteristic left. It was heartening to hear her enthusiasm for our scenario, and to get scientific verification that our original timelines would work. Honestly, the back story research was worth a book in itself!

Lets talk about all the fun and interesting and diverse knowledge we pick up between the covers of romance novels. What have you learned recently while reading? One winner will be drawn from the comments on April 5. The prize: a Desire Duo from the UK pairing of Bronwyn Jameson’s THE RUTHLESS GROOM and Jan Colley’s TROPHY WIVES.


41 Responses to “6 Fun/Interesting Research Discoveries”

  1. I’m FIRST! Ha!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. after all that, Yvonne, and you don’t say anything else???

  3. LOL maybe the ‘fun and interesting’ part has put everyone off!
    Or maybe it’s because I was late posting this – in fact, Bron posted it because I am so puter-challenged. One of these days, when I have time, perhaps I should research this box that sits on my desk, taunting me and driving me insane.
    But there never seems to be enough time…esp not for something that I couldn’t be more disinterested in if I tried!! I just want to write stories and email people, not upload and html and jpeg and format and…and…
    Anyhow, three cheers to my learned friend for helping me out of a pickle. And sad news, bloggers, cos I’m up again next Sun – crikey, better start now…

  4. limecello Says:

    LOL Congratulations, Yvonne. Good for you. 😉 One day I’m going to beat all of you… one day…

    Bronwyn – that all sounds so interesting! And it gives a whole new meaning to “ice” – maybe those hip hop artists got it right, dropping diamonds in their drinks for bling.

    Tessa – isn’t it fun to learn where phrases come from? I’m not big on cemetaries myself, but I know a lot of people like them. A friend I met over the summer wanted to picnic in one…

    Maxine – Wow, that’s a lot of messaging! I know I’m a reader that really appreciates all the work the six of you – and anyone else put into the DDU series!

    Jan – I can see how playing with a pile of diamonds was fun 😉 That sounds like such a great visit. Good to know there’s *some* fun research out there :-P.

    Paula – Sounds like there are a lot of stories in the things you shared. Space diamonds! Almost like something that should be spoofed.

    Yvonne – It makes sense, yet I’m slightly surprised people were skeptical you actually were planning on writing a book/ doing real research.

    Hm… reading and learning… haha, well I read about the Rule Against Perpetuities for Trusts last night… but that’s not fun knowledge. Otherwise, I’m reading “She’s on Top” by Susan Lyons, and I’m learning more about what goes into a music video – the directing, etc.

  5. Rebekah Elrod Says:

    Great posts. I have learned a lot about diamonds from this blog. I never knew that there was so may differences in diamonds. I bet it was very neat doing research on them. Right now I’m reading the P90X exercise manual and am learning about how much pain I am going to put myself through to get back in shape. Hopefully at the end of 90 days I can say It is worth it. After doing my first workout last night my body is telling me that I am completely nuts.

  6. Hey no fair Yvonne I was waiting since Saturday for this blog (Sunday Australia time) then Sunday evening to post first. Darn (LOL). Ok well an interesting thing I picked up on was this romance novel that I read was based on fundraising. Strangely enough the same way the author described it I applied it as a way to try and raised funds for class and it actually worked even better then I expected. There was also another novel about planning events and some of the ideas actually applied for a wedding, and I discussed it with my friend and it turned out so spectacular that even the wedding planner my friend had was impressed. There is just a wealth of information in romance novel.
    THANK YOU ladies for all the research that you do as authors to bring us the readers all these facts we would not have known other wise

  7. Christa Says:

    I’m reading a book right now called Fat Chance. it’s basically an anti diet book. There are some really good tips on detering weight gain and acceptance of oneself

  8. Virginia H. Says:

    I think you do pick up a lot of information from romance novals. You learn how things are in a lot of places. I am a big historical buff so I learn a lot of history. Right now I am reading Give Me a Texan and its all about Texas. But I will have to say I have traveled a lot in books and thats the best part.

  9. Christa Says:

    hi Virginia
    I just finished that yesterday. I found the stories a bit ou of order. It should be read 3, 4, 1, 2. I loved Aggie and Hank in 1

  10. Paula, that was all I wanted to say…at the time 😀 Heh!

    Jan, there’s nothing like a bit of html on your toast in the morning to thoroughly disturb your day, well, my day anyway! Trouble is, the help info is written by people who actually understand all that stuff and unless you know exactly how to ask a question the way an expert would ask it (which begs the question, if they’re an expert why would they even ask to begin with?) you’re totally stymied.

    Limecello, having worked for a trust solicitor for six years before I began writing full time you have my utmost sympathy for the Perpetuities in Trusts literature. Erk!

    Rebekah, good luck with the workout! Do you think some of that hard work could rub off on me, without me actually having to break a sweat that is?

    Avi J, so sorry I bet you to it this time. Hey, your fundraising thing struck a chord with me. Miss 16 is fundraising like crazy for a school netball trip to Australia later this year. As she’s a late inclusion in the squad she has a lot of ground (aka $$$) to make up. If you have any tips please feel free to email me at yvonne at yvonnelindsay dot com! All suggestions gratefully received! 🙂

    Christa, the book you’re reading sounds way more up my alley. I’m too inherently slothful to do anything concrete about weight loss and exercise, although I do think everyone should learn acceptance of oneself at any stage of weight/fitness. Not to say they can’t strive for more/less/better but that it doesn’t hurt to be kind to yourself emotionally.

    Virginia, I’m reading North and South at the moment (written by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell in the 1800’s, Charles Dickens was her mentor! She wanted to name the book “Margaret Hale” after the heroine, and he insisted it be titled “North and South” to show the divide between the northern manufacturing/working classes and the more genteel southern classes in England of the time) and I’ve also hired the DVD of the TV series. The book is very interesting reading from several points of view, not least of which being the narrative style of the time. I could just see my editor today slashing and burning that red pen through pages and pages. We’re after instant gratification with our reading pace these days, I think. Which is probably why I hired the DVD too. The reading is hard going when you only have time to read in snatches! I could be watching the DVD very soon!

  11. Okay, so Yvonne, Paula and Jan all beat me here this time. Of course you know why, don’t you, ladies? Those 3 got Bron to send an email to our DDU loop to say how fabulous the new front page on our DDU website looks with all our covers up there. So naturally I went over there to take a look and while my back was turned you all jumped in here. 🙂

  12. Sure no problem Yvonne, you can check your mail I just sent it. Oh that brings back memories about raising funds in High school to get uniforms and equipment. for my cricket team.
    Hi Maxine you got beaten to the top too (lol). Speaking about weight sometimes I have problems keeping in shape and as mentioned earlier by rebekah and christina, I remembered I read a romance novel by liz fielding called The Bridesmaid Reward it was such a great romance about acceptance of one’s self as the Heroine trys to loose weight and the hero is a fitness trainer. That is just a little peak I would recommend this read 100%.

  13. after all that, Yvonne, and you don’t say anything else???

    Et tu, Paula?

  14. I’m reading “She’s on Top” by Susan Lyons, and I’m learning more about what goes into a music video – the directing, etc.

    Wouldn’t that have been fun research? I love reading that kind of insider or behind-the-scenes stuff in novels. Much fun!

    I’m reading the P90X exercise manual and am learning about how much pain I am going to put myself through to get back in shape.

    LOL, Rebekah (not laughing at you, laughing with you in a totally sympathetic way, while thinking how much more fun it would be to read about Someone Else exercising, LOL.)

    Avi, we didn’t play fair, did we? Sorry ’bout that. Technical issues. Love that you could not only learn, but apply your knowledge of fundraising and wedding planning to practical good. Cool beans.

    Christa, I need that book! 🙂 (Ooh, the Texan one sounds fun, too.) I agree, Virginia, about the travelling through books.

    Avi, Liz Fielding writes wonderful books. Must check that one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Maxine, doesn’t the new front page look awesome?


  15. Christa Says:

    ok Bron just finished I’ll get it in the mail to you next week 😉

  16. okay, far be it for me to stay silent 😀

    I learn heaps from historical novels – apart from the history (and it’s not a lesson if the author does it right!) I love envisaging the costumes. Those flouncy dresses, the men in breeches, and not to mention the witty repartee! .

    I love Richard North Patterson because I learn so much about the way the US judicial system works (must admit, I know more about it that our own Aussie one :/ thanks to Law and Order, Criminal Minds, CSI…)

    What annoys me is when the author feels the need to info dump with all the facts he/she’s learned which researching.

  17. Tessa, I loved that you used Rookwood Cemetery in your book, and thanks for blogging about it here. My grandmother is buried at Rookwood and it’s just such an old cemetery with a great history that is totally fascinating. I know I was looking up a few things about it when I suggested using it for our story, and it was so easy to get thoroughly engrossed in it all.

  18. Finally made it after a busy day writing. DH is on holiday so when he is out of the house I have to make hay! (sounds like something out of Christa’s Texas book!) Avi J, it’s my fault for being late, sorry ’bout that. I’ll make a b-i-i-g effort to be on time next week!

    Rebekah, good luck with your exercise programme. We’ll just about still be up and running in 90 days so keep us posted.

    I’d love to do an event planner heroine some time, not that I know much but used to work at the Town Hall and Convention Center here. Some of the huge gala dinner and balls were amazing to see – the tables, the decorations and theming etc. At least I have lots of contacts.

    Christa, love that ‘deterring weight’ – I have a vision of making little shooing movements with hands to an imaginary blob of weight – “Shoo! Get away from here!” Not that my blob of weight is imaginary in the least, you understand.

    Maxine, how amazing to think Tessa used the cemetary your grandmother is in her book. Perhaps you’ll have time to visit on your trip to Sydney. Hope you have a great time!

  19. That’s ok Jan and Bron; we all know these things happen (smile).
    On the part about the Cemetery I honestly think it is totally creepy and just brings sad feelings even in the day time to even go near it, in a book it is fine but otherwise no way unlike Tessa (LOL). As Jan said it really was cool how Tessa used the same place you grandmother is in her book.
    Jan I look forward to read your book if you do an events planner heroine, If you do, this Text book, Art of the Event: Complete Guide to Designing and Decorating Special Events by James C. Monroe will help you out with all the planning research. (I used it in class) This book was worth every dollar I paid for it.

  20. azteclady Says:

    Well, there are so many things… I first learned about precious stones from Elizabeth Lowell’s Diamond Tiger, then her Donovan books. And Diana Gabaldon introduced me to loads of herbal medicine remedies. There there were so many books set in the Regency, where social mores were amazingly complicated (even if after so many novels, one feels as if one could navigate her way in those social waters). And romances set in the post Civil War years, wherein ‘god’ and ‘bad’, ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ become blurred by the realities of devastation.

    If I had to name only one fun fact I learned reading romance, would be that there were different curtsies for different social ranks in Regency England. Whodathunkit?

  21. From my years of reading historicals, I know how the titles are ranked and how peers are addressed. Dukes are at the top of the totem pole. I also learned the names and types of guns and knives from reading romantic suspense. How can I bring the Ka-Bar knife into an everday conversation?

  22. Thanks a lot, Avi J, for the details of the book, I will remember that. I guess that would have to be a part of your hospitality course, yes? Okay, my next book is a hotel manager so she probably had to do the same course at the start.

    Azteclady, I had forgotten about the herbal healing recipes in Diana Gabaldon’s books. It was so interesting, her being a doctor in ‘real life’ then finding herself back in the 1700’s with none of the medicines she was used to.

  23. Jane, could you pass the Ka-Bar knife and the butter, please?

  24. Jan that is so cool writing on a hotel manager, and yes it was part of my hospitality course. By the way, I actually had an internship as part of my degree requirement, at a small hotel as an Intern assistant to the events and food and beverage manager and it was so hectic and such hard work but I loved it and learned so much about the hospitality industry.

  25. Jan, you naughty thing, have you been hacking my computer? My next-book-but one has a heroine who’s dream is to run her own event planning business 😀

    Jane – “just ducking down to the shops for bread, milk, a Ka-Bar… anyone want anything?”

    Avi J – ::::smooch::: you’re a gem! Thanks for the book reference 🙂

  26. Patricia Cochran Says:

    I guess I most enjoy my “travels,” accomplished through the settings of all the books I have read.
    I am currently in the Texas Territory of the 1850s, courtesy of Sarah McCarty and her “Hell’s
    Eight” series. Prior to that I was in Australia, courtesy of Maxine Sullivan and her “Mistress &
    A Million Dollars.” After Sarah McCarty, I’ll be back in Texas with Tara Taylor Quinn and “The
    Baby Gamble.”

    Pat Cochran

  27. Hi Paula, who knew I would be helping both you and Jan with the book reference (lol). I guess I would have to add you to my list of books to expect soon and btw it is such a fabulous area to write about. I read your book Forgotten Marriage last September it was a keeper I loved how the romance played out between the characters.

  28. Avi J – so thrilled you liked my book :::blush:::: I must admit, my author copies of Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir arrived yesterday and I spent hours reading it (looking for typos!), thinking, ‘hey, that wasn’t half bad..” with a big stupid grin on my face… (or maybe that’s because my hero is so damn gorgeous ).

    Patricia – did you remember your passport? 😉

  29. Forgotten Marriage is a great read, mmm.
    So Paula, did you get me mixed up with someone else? The only way I could hack into any computer, let alone yours, is with a Ka-Bar knife lol, I am so NOT computer savvy.

    Avi J, wish I’d known you before I wrote than dang book. Although sadly in our books, sometimes the career stuff has to really take a back seat. In fact, since my h (in Billionaire’s Favorite Fantasy, July 08, shameless plug, girls, shoot me) was technically on holiday during the story and then got fired!! Guess she should have taken a leaf out of your book, ha ha

    Pat, I’m sure I’ve read a Tara Taylor King sometime…

  30. No, I’m not drunk, just had a long day at the coalface and my eyes are crossing! Sorry about spelling and sentence structure in the above post. Someone better point me in the direction of a grammar research book.

  31. Nathalie Says:

    I recently read a historical where the heroine was into hat-making… Wow, it was so interesting to see what a tedious job it is and that there is so much creativity in it! It is not just a hat!

    BTW: I am loving the seires… and I need to go buy Jan Colley’s one!

  32. Jan one word for you Coffee (smile).

  33. Avi J: some interesting facts about coffee:
    -when shopping for perfume, take some ccffee in your bag and take a good sniff between perfumes to refresh your nose
    -Brazil has a coffee-scented stamp, the smell lasts up to 5 years!
    -coffee is the 2nd most widely-used product in the world
    -Lloyds of London and the New York stock exchange started life as a coffee house!

    Nathalie, yes you do NEED to go buy Jan Colley’s book!
    We have a hat shop down the road from where I live, it’s quite famous. The hats are amazing. I drool in the window, but some people suit hats and some don’t.

  34. azteclady Says:

    Jan, now I need to know what is the number one ‘most widely used product in the world’


  35. Azteclady, that would be oil.
    A couple more interesting trivialities: it takes 42 coffee beans to produce an espresso. And the word ‘tip’ comes from the old coffee houses where the waiters wooden box trays that they carried the cups on, were etched with the words ‘To Insure Promptness.’ Kewl!

  36. Jan some very interesting facts you gave on coffee, so I guess on my next trip to the mall a little coffee to go in my bag, before I buy perfume (lol) and here I thought coffee was to keep you awake (smile)

  37. azteclady Says:

    Oil–shoulda thought about that *sheepish* Thanks, Jan

  38. Okay I’m late but I decided on #26 out of 37 responses and that is……PAT!!! Congrats Pat! I’ll be sending you a signed copy of Bron and my UK edition of her The Ruthless Groom and my Trophy Wives. Can you email me at jan at jancolley dot com and let me know your address? Cheers!

  39. azteclady Says:

    Congrats, Pat!

  40. Way to go pat

  41. wtg pat

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