“The Button” Research


pay phone

My research is usually limited for fiction, especially when I create my own villain. The Button had some necessary fact-checking being set in 1983. Although, I lived through this time period I can’t remember a timeline of when things came out or happened. So, luckily the internet helped me out.

First thing I checked was the music. I wanted to make sure that songs I talked about was timely and had been released by September of 83—even earlier if club bands were playing the music.

Fashion was another area I dove into. Stacy wanted to make a fashion statement by imitating Madonna. Was the timing right for that? I found Madonna’s popularity started that year, so I limited her influence to lace gloves.

In 1983 I didn’t use a cell phone to contact someone, instead there was the public pay phone. What I couldn’t remember was did it still cost a dime to make a call–it did. Was 9-1-1 around? Yes.  TV’s were different and much heavier than they are now, but you could connect it to a format that was making its way into households: a VHS player. Watch a movie any time you wanted or record a show to watch later? Amazing in 83. There were no satellite radio options in a car so you didn’t have to listen to all the commercials, but there were cassette players (or as in my case) an 8-track player where you could control that and what you listened to.

Yes, there were some obvious differences thirty-five years ago in: music, fashion and technology, but why 1983? Although it was the year I got married, I had planned on using 1981.  But, I wanted to use the quote, “Can I see your papers please” from a Clint Eastwood movie; so I pushed the story-line up to 1983 to accommodate that. This particular quote was something my husband used to say quite often so you can understand why I wanted to use it. He is almost as big of fan of quoting movies as Kent is in “The Button”.

The opening bar scene was based off a few of my youthful observations at a trendy dance club, a biker bar, a rocker bar, and a bar that did showcase male strippers. These were the places that would take my “fake” ID before I was “of age” to drink. I clumped them all together into this fictional bar.

Fact checking was also different in the 80s. If we were sitting around and wondered about something, we’d have to look it up in an encyclopedia. There was a hotline, I remember, that offered information– or Ask your librarian. It came in handy when we played some of our board games or had a person who insisted they were right.

There was no research when it came to things that happened to me. The eight-hour coma was real and came from my memories, but then it was twisted into the story. I didn’t have a conversation with angels like Lynn did. I did grow up in an alcoholic house where there were parenting issues and a blended family. Yet, Lynn Hill’s family bears no resemblance to my real family, including the step brother Warren. I added a couple of things scattered throughout the book a person or two will recognize. That was for the love and friendships that endured over the years.

So, know I always try to get my facts straight now and in the past.

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Embrace your inner child with a good book, D.L. Finn

21 thoughts on ““The Button” Research”

    1. Your research paid off, Denise, because the story reads well. I’m so sorry you experienced the coma — and especially sorry you don’t recall talking with angels. 🙂

  1. I had forgotten all about the “ask a librarian” service. Thanks for the reminder.

    So scary to know you were in a coma. Sorry to hear that, but I’m glad all is well now. Best wishes with the release!

    1. So much information to be had at the library:) Thanks Staci…yes, everything came out very well. Same with your release, too!

    1. It is important for good writing I agree Karen
      …plus I always have fun doing it:) Thank you Karen I did learn a lot through that.

  2. Music, a great place to start when it comes to research, as it is strongly tied to memory. I think most of us can remember where we were the first time we heard our favorite song. .

    1. That’s very true Mark about memories and music. A certain song can come on the radio and transport us back in time. I had fun researching that.

  3. I loved the time period you chose for the book. It brought back so many memories for me.
    I set my Point Pleasant series in the early 80s and remember researching many of the things you mentioned. Like you, although I lived through that time period, I couldn’t remember many of the pop culture items and had to look them up.
    Very scary that you were in that coma. So glad you’re fine now!

    1. It was a great time to revisit and I loved doing that in your Point Pleasant series, too:) It was a time when things were changing so quickly, but that bit of innoscence and freedom was still there. It does the same thing to me bringing back all those carefree times and fun fashion and music.

      Thanks Mae, I took away a lot from that experience.

  4. I lived the 80s, and remember getting lost in research back then. Encyclopedias were treasure troves of great information! Now it’s just easier to get lost in research because the internet is so much faster than pulling 2″ thick books off the shelf 😀

    1. Sometimes it does feel like a long time ago, I agree. Other times it feels like yesterday. I was thinking at least people were looking up and not down at a phone while writing it. I miss that.

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