Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Research, Clues, and Discovery


Oftentimes a write needs to know something, some fact, some name, number, or ...

Diane Diekman, the author of Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story, has embarked on the research for another biography, this one of another country music performer born Martin David Robinson.

In a recent newsletter to fans of her work she wrote ...

Marty once told Ralph Emery he got the name Marty Robbins from "a Russian kid by the name of Harry Tomichov" [phonetic spelling]. He wanted to change his name "because I didn't want anybody to know it was me playing. Because I was ashamed. So Harry says why don't you just shorten your name to Marty Robbins, and nobody will know it. And, he said, it will make a nice name, too. I had dreams of becoming a singer and being on record, and I thought Marty Robbins would look better than Martin David Robinson on a record."

When I transcribed that interview, I didn't have any intention of trying to find this person named Harry -- until I went to Phoenix. One of the friends I interviewed from Marty's youth told me the correct spelling was Tolmachoff, and there was a colony of Russian immigrant farmers in Glendale. He said Harry died several years ago. I then did an Internet search and found an article titled "A Russian Farmers' Village in Glendale, Arizona". I emailed the author, who put me in touch with Steve Tolmachoff, who helped me find Harry Tolmachoff, Jr. Oh, the wonders of the Internet!

This sort of imagination and perseverance applies whether a writer is researching for nonfiction or fiction. There's nothing that destroys author credibility quicker than inaccuracies.

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