Part of my research for my thesis/new novel Rose was that I had to look into the life of a sociology grad student, because my protagonist Rose Taggert is one. Well, was one. I mentioned when I first announced what I was working on that Rose died and was resurrected by her stalker, didn’t I?

Anyway, since my knowledge of sociology was limited to the introductory course I took last year, I decided to contact the sociology department at Ohio State to see if they could maybe help me. After first heading to their main office, and then getting redirected to their undergraduate advising office, I talked over email with one of the advisers, who then told me to email their graduate adviser Kelly Hopkins (boy, was that a little roundabout). After a couple of emails to determine when was a good time to meet, we finally agreed to meet at nine this morning, and I made the trip onto campus. Once back in the same office I started in, I was taken to Ms. Hopkins room (no idea if she’s married, so I’ll just go with “Ms.” for now), where she was all too happy to give me an explanation of what the sociology grad program was like after I explained to her about my protagonist Rose.

We spoke for a little under a half hour, Ms. Hopkins doing most of the talking while I asked a question here and there. Turns out that sociology grads at Ohio State spend their first two years earning their Masters degrees, after which they take very intense candidacy exams to enter the PhD program. At that point they start taking specialized courses for PhD students, as well as taking specialized courses for their area of specialization and working on their dissertation. The grad students spend a lot of time together in classes and in their offices together, usually becoming lifelong friends by the time they graduate. They also develop close relationship with their faculty advisers, and many of them have the chance to teach during their tenure as grads.

Based on this information, I was able to get a clearer picture of who Rose will be and what her grad life was like prior to the events of the novel. She’s probably in her third year of grad school, so she’s about six months into the PhD program. She is specializing in criminology and community studies, particularly studies involving gun violence, and was probably either a GTA working underneath a professor in an introductory course or already a PhD student teaching a class of her own when she met the student who would become her stalker, depending on how long ago I end up wanting them to meet and the latter becoming fixated on her.

I’m glad I was able to meet with Ms. Hopkins and speak with her today. I know Rose’s life as a grad student isn’t the most important part of the novel, but it’s one I wanted to seem authentic to readers. Besides, it’d be a little bit embarrassing if a sociologist or sociology student read Rose when it came out and was like, “What the heck sort of program is this girl in?” Always glad to have the details right.

I also learned something interesting from Ms. Hopkins: when I told her that my work was heavily influenced by Stephen King, she mentioned that she had a friend who was a make-up artist for horror movies and had worked on a few Stephen King adaptations of King’s work, including The Shining, and knew King personally. Apparently King’s a very nice, sweet guy in person (doesn’t surprise me; we horror authors usually are, though at one point I thought I needed to be a little bit creepier in order to be a better author). I ended up handing Ms. Hopkins two of my business cards so that she could pass them onto her friend (and maybe even King. Do I dare dream of it?). Hopefully at least one of them will go online and check out my work.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m going to do some more work on my thesis outline later today. At this point I think I might be done by the end of the week, with about thirty or so chapters. I’m still not sure where eactly this novel is going, but so far I like what I’ve come up with and I think my adviser might as well. I’ll keep you guys updated.

Have a great day, everyone!

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