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Writer research…AKA–getting to live other people’s lives…

What do you think of  when you hear the words ‘writer’ and ‘research’?  When I first began to seriously pay attention to the necessary skills inheritant to a writer, I had this vague image in my head of an investigative reporter in a fedora and topcoat skulking around dark corners, spying on nefarious types.  Unfortunately that’s not the way it really is. My reference library of actual books has increased exponentially over the years with such titles as: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology, The Search for ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, Monsters and Demons, Letters of Enoch, Navaho Indian Myths, Conflict, Action & Suspense, The Scene of a Crime,The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, Werewolves, The Book of Everything Feckin’ Irish, and so on.

It’s varied enough, the titles are housed in my  bedroom closet so the impressionable minds in the house have limited access.  Trying to explain to a teacher why my sons understand how to tell a were from a shifter and what weapon is easily modified to take out hearts is not a conversation I want to repeat.

But, as much information as you can gain from various books from a wide range of subject experts, nothing beats expierecing it for yourself or talking to those who’ve already been there and done that. Granted, for Urban Fantasy, finding a reliable source who’s fought off a werewolf or back a slavering vamp down is a bit hard to find, but there are ways around such things.  For example, in SHADOW’S MOON, most of my research circled around wild wolves and their behaviors.  Not because the story is packed with information, but because I needed my characters reactions to read true to their animal natures.  Conversations with my brother in law who enjoys spending time dressed like a tree, helped me consider how a human hunter’s mind could work in conjunction with a wild predator’s intellect.  Viola! Alpha werewolf in human skin.

In my current work, I’m pulling on other sources. Sources Knight and I have known for years, and we’re lucky enough to still have in our life considering their chosen lifestyle revolves around repeated tours overseas to keep me and mine safe.  Not to say I’m not pouring through various texts on military tactics or the psychology of special forces, but those can’t show me the depth of courage and honor it really takes to face something that most of us (thank goodness) never have to face.  Not only has our friend been a great resource in the creation of my characters, but the more I talk to him, the more I realize how lucky we are to have him in our lives.

Despite my anti-social, watch from the sidelines typical reserve, I’m discovering just how much more beneficial it is to go and start a conversation with those in my life.  All those personalities, all those stories, it’s a treasure trove out there.  Each person has stories that boggle the mind, each of them have something to contribute  to my growing mental library of character motivation, scene creation and plot devices.  More than books, there is no better research tool than the world we live in, because more time than naught, it’s the unexpected realities that make heart pounding adventures we writers depend on.

What are some of your best research tools?



PS  Join us next week when LIV RANCOURT comes for a visit….

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