Janice Horton’s Novel Approach to Research

Today, Jera’s Jamboree would like to welcome author Janice Horton as part of her book tour to launch Reaching for the Stars.

Janice is sharing with blog readers her preference for researching and how it applies to Reaching for the Stars.

The idea for Reaching for theStars was sparked by my fascination for the rock stars of the culinary world – celebrity chefs. I will also admit to having an insatiable appetite for cookery books and TV shows, from Hell’s Kitchen to Ready Steady Cook and everything in between. But when it came to writing about the high pressure world of a top chef, I had little experience as occasionally eating out in a nice restaurant doesn’t really count!
There are many writers who insist research should be done ‘as you go along’ so that you don’t get bogged down with it all but I don’t really hold with that idea at all. I believe a writer not only needs to know the specifics of what their characters do but also needs to ‘feel’ what it’s like to live in their world. I advocate doing extensive research beforehand.
So, for Reaching for the Stars, I immersed myself in Chef TV and read lots of incredibly interesting and insightful Chef Biographies. Even this however, wasn’t enough for me to truly empathise with my main characters, so I decided to contact some hot chefs and interview them personally.
Fabulous freelance chef Cathro Brook, who has travelled all over the world cooking for VIP’s and celebrities, told me the most amazing stories, from gun dogs getting onto the shooting party luncheon table to her oven gloves catching fire during a diplomatic dinner. 

Top chef Colin Masson shared his afternoon coffee breaks with me on several occasions and told me lots of wonderful anecdotes about chefs, restaurants, and kitchens, giving me lots of ideas for my novel. 

Janice with top chef Colin Masson
Chef Ian McAndrew, who has a gastronomic CV and cookbook backlist to make other chefs weep, was the youngest UK chef  ever to have held a Michelin star. As the stars being ‘reached for’ in Reaching for the Stars are loosely based on the Michelin Star system (in my story I call them Golden Stars) Ian generously invited me to his the hotel to answer my research questions. He and his sous and commis also demonstrated what it takes to run an award winning kitchen in Dumfries and Galloway.
Interestingly, my novel approach to research attracted the attention of a local TV news crew and so on the day I visited Chef McAndrew, I had a camera crew in tow. The resulting short film can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

Reaching for the Stars is now available in e-book format at the special launch price of just 95p.


Janice is a www.loveahappyending.com author

Follow her on Twitter @JaniceHorton

Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/nbaWed

Janice is touring the following blogs for the launch of Reaching for the


About the author: Janice lives in Scotland and writes romantic novels with humour which are, for the most part, inspired by the beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. When Janice is not writing novels, she write lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She edits The Review Chair for the innovative reader/writer website loveahappyending.com and is also the bestselling author of the humorous romance ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’.



14 thoughts on “Janice Horton’s Novel Approach to Research

  1. What a great post, Janice! I love the way you went about your research–inspired! And so much fun… and a TV interview to boot, you ROCK! I hope all goes well today, congrats again–Nicky

  2. Wonderful to read all about the research for this book Janet, and fabulous interview Shaz! It's the quality of the research that shows in the end results and I think chef McDuff is going to be larger than life! Good luck with your tour…..

  3. Great post!Really enjoyed reading it:)Since I am not a writer,but a reader and reviewer I can only imagine what effort you put in researching, writing,editing. However it all pays off.:) The reader can “feel” when a writer didn't do much researching and can't really attach to hi/s hers story or characters. But, if the writer is really familiar with what he/she writes about,readers love it and it helps them get into the story and characters completely. I assume it wasn't easy, but Janice you did a FANTASTIC job:) Keep up the great work:) Love,
    Ananda x x

  4. I love the approach you used to conduct your research for this novel! I had watched the film of your interview with Chef McAndrew one day whilst visiting your blog.

    Good luck with the rest of your blog tour! Off now to the next stop to see what you and Deb Carr are going to talk about!

  5. You sound like you had just as much fun researching your book as you did writing it and of course, this Blog tour. Wishing you fantastic success, you so deserve to be up there with the top authors. x

  6. It's been great hosting you today Janice. Wishing you every success with Reaching for the Stars and I look forward to reading the rest of the blogs taking part.

  7. Hi Shaz & Janice, really enjoyed reading this post. When you read as much as we do, it's interesting to find out how the author researches their characters – and now we know how Janice does hers. Think next time, you should write about an exotic holiday location – great excuse for research! Looking forward to Janice visiting my blog on 21st. See you both soon. Kim x x

  8. What a wonderful behind the book article. Sometimes doing the research can be just as much fun as writing the book. It certainly comes through in Reaching for the Stars. Now… if we could just get a few copies out to those real celebrity chefs (or even their wives!) I am sure the book will soar.
    Great post Shaz.

  9. Thank you everyone for your comments and for your enthusiasm for Reaching for the Stars. Yes, I'm afraid I do rather enjoy the research part of writing a little too much, whether it's tucking my cold hands into the shaggy coat of a Highland cow to find out how it felt (for a scene in Bagpipes & Bullshot, where poor Orley is stranded out in a snowy glen with only her cattle to keep her warm) or discovering if and how it might be possible for a greasy cloth to catch fire on a chef's shoulder – it's all in the research!

    Thank you again Shaz for being a fabulous blog host!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hogmanay.

    love, Janice xx

  10. Pingback: Book Review: Reaching for the Stars by Janice Horton | Jera's Jamboree

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