I'm obsessed. My research on Tuesday started out innocent enough. I simply wanted a title of a Minerva Press novel that my heroine could be reading.
For those who don't know, Minerva Press printed novels during the Regency period. They were romantic stories of high society and Gothic tales. These novels were frowned upon, but young ladies managed to read them.
I found a wonderful site of British literature (http://www.british-fiction.cf.ac.uk/) that even listed works by year. Found several wonderful titles--Ankerwick Castle, The Monk of the Grotto, The Enchantress, Mysterious Husband, and Nobility Run Mad. I decided on The Pirate of Naples. Sounded like a good book my heroine would read.
I plug the title into my WIP. But then, that's not enough. My hero needs to ask a question and have the heroine answer. Of course, this book is the one no site has. No where can I find a synopsis. I spend hours searching the title and the author's name. Didn't come up with much.
My point is for one simple fact that wasn't all that important, I spent a lot of time on the internet. Time that could better be spent actually writing. If I couldn't find anything on the book, then most people aren't going to be familiar with it. Yet, I feel an urge to know more about it.
Whether writing historical or contemporary, research confronts writers. Do you make up cities where you can create your own world or do you use actual cities? If you use real places, someone invariably is going to comment on something you got wrong about the place. Or if a character has an occupation that you're unfamiliar with. Or if they want to blow up something. Never mind that we write fiction.
Do you ever get sidetracked with your research? Or do you figure it doesn't matter that much for fiction?