Thursday brings us answers to another question submitted by you! This week’s winner is Tammy Sullivan. She asks: “Is it hard to find out about towns, details about what the character does? And how do you research? For example, if a character is a pilot, how do you find details about the plane and being a pilot? And how do you find details about towns that are nonfiction. Do you look them up or go visit them? Do you get input from the professions the character does for a living through online research or the people who do that for a living? Always wondered how that works? Seems like a lot of work!”
For submitting her question, Tammy’s won a copy of Irregardless of Murder by Suspense Sister E.E. Kennedy!
If you have a question for us, leave it below. You might be our next winner! You could win a book by one of today’s top suspense/mystery writers – or a gift certificate to Amazon! (Questions submitted without contact information won’t be considered.)
I always create a fictional town so I can do what I want but I use a real time as my model. I research on the internet and/or talk topeople in the know. As far as professions I also find an expert that I can talk to. For instance, in BURIED, my first Mountain Cove book, my hero is an avalanche specialist. I didn't even know that existed until I got into research, so I found an expert who answered all my questions and gave me more story fodder. Youtube and blog posts are also a great way to gather research
It is a lot of work, but when I can, I go to the location. When I can't travel, I buy travel guides and browse the internet. There are books written on every subject. I go to Amazon and purchase first hand accounts of historical events when possible.
Cynthia Hickey (Melton)
I set my first novel in a town I created that was an amalgam of the one where I grew up and the somewhat larger city where I went to college. Since it wasn’t real, I could do what I wanted with it—butI’d encourage anyone doing this to carry out a thorough Google search to make certain there’s no real town by that name. After that book, I’ve either used a fictitious setting or the city where I’ve lived and worked for decades…and any research needed that couldn’t be done in my car was accomplished via my computer.
Since my background is medicine, you’d think I wouldn't have to research any medical aspects of my novels, but you’d be wrong. I speak the language, true, but I still have to check out everything from the perspective of whatever specialty I assign to my protagonist. As for other professions, such as law or police work, I depend on my computer and my friends.
I LOVE doing research on places! I've walked the streets of Paris via Google maps and investigated the unique plants of Yuma, AZ. And I love using Real Estate websites to choose settings. I can do virtual walk-throughs on buildings of all types and prices. My favorite was a $2.4 Million condo in the heart of downtown Dallas. All the exterior walls were glass with a double-sided fireplace and two balconies overlooking the historic West End and the arts district. LOVED it!
And what's funny is when I drive by the building, I can almost picture my hero on his 14th floor patio. LOL!
Actually, I love research! Learning something new and sharing it with my readers is great fun. Since most of my towns are fictional, I usually try to drive through the area I’m writing about – just to make sure a small town will fit in the area I’ve selected.
I’ve shared lots of information – from different kinds of safes in the 1800’s to practices of small town sheriffs. I never know what fun facts I’ll need to research next.
One other thing about research: Whenever possible, I try to talk to people rather than just getting information from books or the Internet. Real people bring a spin to things that you can’t usually find any other way.