One of the great things about being a writer is boldly going where others only venture on the page. I LOVE research (one of the reasons I enjoyed the college experience and had more library cards - remember those? - than credit cards!). Sorting and arranging facts then laying them out like puzzle pieces to form a picture in the mind’s eye might just be my super power, so I’m all over this month’s IWSG question: What’s the weirdest/coolest thing you’ve ever had to research for your story . . . but first, I’m really thrilled to be part of this month’s welcoming spiel.
The awesome co-hosts for the May 3rd posting of the IWSG will be Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!Squee, that's me!! I can't wait to begin my second tour of co-hostessy duties, and visit with many of you! But first, my top research moment:
After writing the first book in my “By Moonlight” shape-shifter series, I knew that to get an extra layer of authenticity, I wanted to experience my setting up close and personal. So, it was off to New Orleans with two of my critique partners for a week-long immersion into the sight, sounds, scents and tastes of my favorite city. I quickly discovered there was no way to adequately describe walking face first into the heavy humidity, the savory bouquet and exquisite tingle of Cajun cooking, the sense of history steeped in every stone, the rocking jostle of the street car, the intriguing music of accented voices and the carefree joie de vie crowding the uneven sidewalks at all hours without having felt their embrace. I’d been in the city before during conferences and knew those unique vibes but I hadn’t ventured beyond those regimented boundaries into the heart of Louisiana.
Taking an airboat into the tangled, sweaty and wildly gorgeous center of the bayou, I found the untamed pulse for my series. The raw beauty, the unexpected twists and turns, the isolation, and . . . the very real danger. One of the touristy things to enjoy is the guide coaxing alligators up to the side of the boat. What a show! Each inch from snout to brow is a powerful foot of body length. Those gliding beauties can leap more than just a few feet straight up out of the water with the thrust of their tail. A fact I truly appreciated when the concerned guide advised me not to move as a big boy nudged up alongside the boat where I was sitting, apparently thinking my white sneaker looked just like one of those tasty marshmallows they so enjoy. I wisely froze like a box lunch while the guide used his oar to gently dissuade the would-be diner. In that heart-in-the-throat moment, I truly understood the non-human characters in my books. No matter how docile and obliging they might seem floating lazily on the surface in their Armani suits, underneath, they’re powerful, dangerously unpredictable creatures of instinct and survival that can snap at any given second with a bite that has sharp teeth. And they’re almost always hungry. That revelation was the nugget of truth behind my whole trip, that, and deciding that maybe sitting on the edge isn’t always best idea when wearing white shoes. Who knew?
What favorite research recollections surface for my fellow authors? Follow the links below to find out.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
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