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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Author Insight: In the Name of Research

What is the most outlandish thing you've done in the name of research?

"Talked to people who'd lived in a country I'd rather not name to find out if it was as bad as I'd read. (Short answer: YES!) Oh, and I learned how to disable most common in-home security systems for my novel, Stealing Heaven --not that I've done it, but it's almost scary how easy it is to learn how to do it."- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"Joined a coven*  (*I really haven't, but I would like to visit one.)" - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"I put on a hoodie and then asked my writing partner to stand on the couch and start choking me, all so I could figure out how the hoodie would bunch up on the body, and what would hurt." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"I went to a nudist colony! I was able to go fully clothed with a friend but that was certainly a very cool experience. I saw things I had never seen before, lol!" - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

"Mostly, I’ve eaten more pieces of pie in one day than should be legally allowable even in the state of South Carolina. I’ve eaten fried pickles in the real Summerville, and snuck through someone’s backyard to get to the real Lake Moultrie. Nothing too crazy." - Margaret Stohl, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"As a part of character research, I went grocery shopping as if I were Jace and brought back a ton of junk food  That week, my kids learned who Little Debbie is." - Swati Avashti, author of Split.

"Outlandish? Get obsessed with figuring out human and wolf anatomy for the transformation scenes involving werewolves in Other and especially the sequel, Bloodborn, which is chock-full of werewolfy goodness. Also, visit a wolf sanctuary to see real wolves up close, but that told me more about how wolves behave in captivity than anything. But I can't think of anything really bad I've done. Yet." - Karen Kincy, author of Other.

"What *haven't* I done? One of the nice things about writing is that everything counts as research.  Probably the most *committed* thing I've done is once, on a road trip, I convinced a friend to drive three hours out of our way so we could visit a town with a population smaller than my high school in time for their local fair.  I wandered through the festivities, taking notes.  Then my friend got in a fight with the mayor.  Over a pie.  And we had to leave." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.

"To figure out the logistics of a scene in The Dark Divine, I made a baby sling out of one of my husband’s dress shirts and made him wear it with our 2 year old son slung to his side.  Then I climbed onto his back and made him run around the house as fast as he could." - Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine.

"I’m not a very outlandish person, so I’ve never done or had to do anything too crazy for research. I read a lot of books on history and religion for the majority of my research. However, I suppose all the parties I’ve been to could be called research into Ellie’s social life." - Courtney Allison Moulton, author of Angelfire.

"It’s not very outlandish, but I sailed on a square rigged ship, The Lady Washington, in order to get a feeling for how the captain calls orders, how the crew works together to raise and lower sails and yards, and so forth." - Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of Bitter Night.

"I once dressed like boy (T-shirt, boxers, jeans, no bra, etc.) and had my husband push me into a swimming pool.  Then I walked through the woods by the river for 45 minutes in those wet clothes and shoes.  It was very important research!" - Mindi Scott, author of Freefall.

"I don't think I've done anything particularly outlandish. I traveled to Rome to location scout, climbed into abanadoned Etruscan tombs, learned about bowhunting and taxidermy, sat in a tree stand, visited a chapel made from human bones... the usual." - Diana Peterfreund, author of Rampant.

"I'd heard that there was a cool old building in a small town near Austin, and I thought it might be inspiration-board material, so one day I drove there to look at it.  It was late in the day because I was trying to avoid the 100 degree heat of a Texas summer.  I saw an old cemetery at the edge of town as I drove in, but I was afraid if I stopped, I'd be there all day---cemeteries fascinate me. So I continued into town and took some pictures of the building; it was cool, but too '19th century jail'-looking to really be inspiration for my book.  It was just starting to get dark when I was leaving, so I decided to stop by the old cemetery on my way out of town.  It was right off the highway, but kind of below it, as there was railroad overpass there.  The cemetery was awesome and even had a broken down iron gate, much like I envisioned for Shadow Hills.  I'd been thinking about the big fight scene in my book and wondering how well Phe would be able to see running through a graveyard at night. So I decided: here I was in a cemetery, and it was growing dark, especially under the big oak trees.  Why not try running through the cemetery in the near darkness and see just how hard it would be for Phe?  So there I was darting around tombstones and occasionally leaping over one of the low ones, and all the while people kept driving through the cemetery.  About three cars drove by really slowly, and one of them even stopped.  No one said anything to me, but after I recovered from my first flash of embarrassment, I wondered what in the world they were doing there. I mean, it wasn't totally nighttime yet, but it was really deep dusk, and the only lights were from the nearby highway. Surely these people weren't here to visit a relative's grave.  The spookiness of the cemetery at night, combined with the desolate look of the area under the overpass, got to me.  I was suddenly sure that these were drug dealers meeting at the cemetery for a sale.  Needless to say, I walked quickly back to my little Prius, jumped in, locked the doors, and took off.  " - Anastasia Hopcus, author of Shadow Hills.

"I went to a shooting range and fired a Glock 40 caliber semi-automatic. I could barely wrap my hands around the thing. It was crazy." - Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

"This isn’t really outlandish, but for a magazine article I once hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail with a group of strangers to get a feel for the community that the hikers develop while in the woods together for an extended period of time.  It’s, um…creepy.  In a very organic, granola kind of way.  Let’s just say I scarfed down an entire pizza when I hit pavement again.  (And I consider myself on the outdoorsy side, too!) " - Kristin Tubb, author of Selling Hope.

Stop by Thursday to find out what off-the-wall things our other authors have done as research for their writing.
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  1. omgosh at Anastasia Hopcus' story. I thought it was because people saw and thought they saw a ghost running or something. lol.

    Really interesting to read all these though :D

  2. I think I've said it before but I love these posts and strangely I want to go running through a cemetery now :P of course in my town I'm most likely to be noticed rather quickly.