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#34 The lightbulb goes on

I love doing research. For my historical novel, The Young Dragons, published in 1982 by Signet, I did seven months of deep research. With my novel to be set in 1800s China and California, I learned about China’s Szechwan province, the history and culture of China, San Francisco, the history and culture of California, the construction of the transcontinental railroad and The Gold Rush that brought over three hundred thousand people from across America and abroad to the Golden State.

When the dust cleared I had nearly five hundred pages of research and character descriptions. I used a lot of it in my novel.

The research job I was presently on wouldn’t take nearly so long because I was hot on the trail of what I was looking for. Lori had given me clues: American Greetings and Those Characters From Cleveland. Lori worked very hard at the studio. But I knew she also liked to have fun, and I had a hunch seeing a newbie sniffing around a mystery was fun for her. I also had a hunch she wanted me to solve this mystery.

At the library I read articles about American Greetings. I knew they made greeting cards and that they started Those Characters From Cleveland to handle merchandise tie-ins for their original greeting cards characters. This led to television series. Their Strawberry Shortcake character, starting in 1981, would generate $500 million in revenues. But legal entanglements stopped Those Characters From Cleveland from developing a series around her for decades. They were doing okay with The Get Along Gang. But I knew they wanted a hit and The Get Along Gang wasn’t it.

Then, in a trade magazine, I saw two magical words: Care Bears.


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