This was my second trip to Salem (third if you count that class trip in 6th grade). I went last year to do research for book 2 because there were some things I just needed to experience. My friend Meg (whose name you may recognize from, say, the dedication in The Survivors) took me up there, and we sort of did the whole tourist thing. This time around, we wanted to do some more digging. We saw more places, and then spent time in places like the Danvers Archival Center in the basement of the library in Danvers, MA (which was once Salem Village). We took a bajillion pictures and some video that we'll be sharing with you soon.
Places like the archival center excite the hell out of me. Research is sort of the bread and butter of this story. There are so many details underneath the story-- some that make it in, some that don't-- that piece together the real timeline of events as it's supported by existing documentation in such a way that it makes the Survivors' story...plausible. Letters written from the Governor of Massachusetts back to England, petitions signed by townspeople, arrest warrants, trial transcripts, first-hand accounts, memoirs... and the list goes on. The little academic in me bubbles in excitement when I find the holes in history. Weird details that I can't believe have survived 320 years. Weirder missing pieces of information whose omission is suspect. We know so much about what happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692... and yet we don't.
I once heard Alyson Noel say that she doesn't believe in writers' block. If she gets stuck, all she does is research. More research brings more ideas, and so there's always a forward movement. I've always agreed with this whole-heartedly, and I was reminded of it in Salem. There are always more loose ends or instances of truth-stranger-than-fiction. And so there's always inspiration. That's my favorite thing about the writing process. If you're writing and get stuck, or want to be writing and don't know how to get started... then research. It's the universal answer. In my-- and Alyson Noel's-- book anyway.