In the Flesh by Cynthia Reese

It flat took my breath away.

Research is a pet project of mine, always, and for everything. I love to research. It would be great to get paid for research. Probably, out there somewhere, there is a job where I could Google everything all day long and get paid for it.

Until then, I explain my research habit by writing. ;-)

That's not the only reason I write, of course. I write, mostly, anyway, because I'm a control freak and writing allows me to achieve complete world domination on the page, at least. But it's always nice to have an outlet for my obsessive research about everything.

Take my latest project. I love old houses. And so when I decided to write a book about a girl in an old house, it had to be the perfect old house. It turned out, despite my control freak ways, that the style of the perfect old house wasn't a style I was familiar with AT ALL. 

Which is the ironic twist of being a writer. You think you're in control, and then your characters show you who's really boss.

The style of the house is called Second Empire. I'd never heard of it before, so I did what I always do: research. And my research led me to an example in Savannah. 

I saw it on a recent trip ... And, let me tell you, it was magnificent. I made my sister stop. I had to get out the car and take pictures. I wanted to go and knock on the door and ask if I could look around. I restrained myself.

And that is how Google can only take me so far. I had looked at lots of Second Empire homes on the web. But I never lost my breath when I looked at the pictures.

I did lose my breath in real life. And being there, seeing it, has helped me see it from my characters' perspective. 

And I can see it all the better if I could get in  that  house!  ;-)


  1. I love old houses, too. We drove through South Dakota this summer and I made my husband drive through neighborhoods of small towns just so I could look and imagine and dream.

  2. Beautiful! I love old homes as well, but my husband won't live in anything built before the year 2000 lol:)

  3. Cynthia! What a wonderful home. Can you research who lives there and write a letter or an email, or call? Ask for photos in return for a credit or a dedication. I don't know where you're located, but maybe you'll end up going back with an invitation to visit. Usually, when you tell someone you're a writer, they give you a little latitude - okay, usually i's out of sympathy rather than respect, but still . . .

  4. This loving houses seems to be a prevalent trait in writers. So many of my stories have started with having driven by a home that intrigued me. I can't tell you how many tours I've taken in various cities and towns, so I could see the inside of some fabulous homes. The homes in the South are just so elegant. I hope you get a chance to go through this one you love.

  5. The house in the book I just finished was Second Empire. Like you, I'd never heard to it, but found a picture that made me decide if I couldn't have it, my heroine was going to! But it wasn't as pretty as this one.

  6. I've been researching lately too, Cynthia :)I think it is such a critical piece of writing an authentic story. The Second Empire style house looks gorgeous and I can't wait to read your story set in it. I've been reading articles lately on what to do when a cow is born early and in the wrong position and while it takes writing time away, it also gives it back because the scene takes a much more natural and organic shape when you know how it goes. I've helped my uncle birth cows- but I'd never been present when trouble came up. It was helpful to read about what would actually happen so that my hero and heroine react in realistic ways.

  7. Cynthia, I love houses so I agree with Roz that writers must have a thing for them. I love making stories up about the people who must live in certain houses. I think the reality would make it less interesting.

  8. Great subject! Almost everyone loves old houses! And I agree with Syndi. There's a house down the road in Corrales that always captured my attention. Finally one day I got to go inside. I'm not sure what I expected, but the first room to the left was all but empty, except for one of those old vintage wheelchairs. It was like stepping into a Stephen King novel. It really creeped me out. The rooms too, were super tiny. I can tell you from experience - use your imagination. It's far far better.

  9. Gorgeous house in the photo. I love both research and the character of old homes. Old homes have so many stories to tell and sometimes a few ghosts who are more than willing to tell them to you ;). Heh, heh, heh. (That was for you, Aimee ;) lol.


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