Researching Aggravated: A Talk

In January 2017, Jerry Stubblefield, a friend of mine, invited me to present something to a gathering of artists and writers at something he had started called The Salon at the Microscopic Theater. The Salon is located in his home in Asheville, North Carolina (and I live in Texas), but he was thinking I might do something long-distance, maybe by Skype, or something pre-recorded. Minay and I hadn’t been on a long vacation for several years, so we tossed around the idea of driving there on our way to see something else, like Colonial Williamsburg. I had been making notes for myself about the process of researching the book. Sometimes they were just notes about daily activities (whenever I was in Deep Springs, for example), or thoughts about interviews I had recorded, etc. Looking back through the notes, I realized that, gathered together, they would provide a starting point for describing how I researched the book.

By mid-April we had settled on a date of May 20th, and Jerry sent out invitations. We decided to not go to Williamsburg this time, but Minay, a wonderful quilter, had heard about three special exhibits at the American Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, so we left our home in Spring (TX), and headed northeast-ish, with stops at Oxford, MS, to pay our respects to Faulkner, and at Paducah, to honor the gods of quilting. From there we drove southeast-ish to Pembroke, KY, to tour a bourbon distillery, then east and south to visit a coal mining museum before arriving in Asheville. So it only took us five days and 1,500 miles to drive the 1,000 miles to Asheville.

Michael and Minay's Route to Asheville
Michael and Minay’s Route to Asheville

Once we arrived there, the day before the talk, Jerry and his wife, Cindy, gave us a nice tour of the city and we relaxed. I filmed the talk the next night and put together three videos from it. Here they are. “Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: The Frustrations and Rewards of Research.”

Part 1 of the talk. The talk itself begins after a brief intro, at about 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Part 2.

Part 3.

If you have any thoughts about the talk (or anything else I mentioned on the page) please let me know below.

 Michael Sirois

Standard Disclaimer: Please post a comment below if you would like to. All comments are personally moderated by a grouchy old guy, though, so posts by self-promotional schemers, spammers, and lunatic ranters won’t make it through. Everyone else, whether your thoughts about this story are positive or negative, please feel free to speak your mind, but don’t ask me to reveal the identities of any of these individuals. Thanks.

Leave a Comment