Share Your Best Writing Research Experiences

 

Don't ask about THIS research

Don’t ask about THIS research

Each book presents different challenges for research. Share some of your more interesting and memorable research experiences. Any funny stories? Anything that personally touched you?

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

15 thoughts on “Share Your Best Writing Research Experiences

  1. I enjoyed researching a Russian shvitz for Perish by Pedicure. It was an ornately decorated spa inside an old North Miami hotel. I locked my valuables in a locker, changed into a swimsuit, and tossed a towel over my arm. Under the towel I had a camera and notebook. Then I went from room to room visiting the pools and saunas, massage rooms, and steam rooms, taking pictures and notes. The customers surprised me. I’d expected little old men, but there were hunky guys and girls in bikinis using the place as a day spa.

  2. My first two novels were “write what you know” so much of that was already ingrained into life. The second book, an action/adventure for teens with a female protagonist, had a scene with someone swept down river rapids. Since I live next to the Snake River, I thought, “hmmm.”

    Smashing into an unseen underwater boulder turns out to be both shocking and a bit painful. Rather than come into shore to dodge the rapids, I headed out to the deeper channel where the boats rip past at 40 mph. Getting back out of the current proved exhausting. Made for a better scene in the book.

    Funny bit: wife and daughter #2 dropped me off and argued about whether I would have the good sense to come to shore rather than risk getting my head split by a speedboat hull. Daughter won with the statement, “Mom, we’re talking about DAD here.” It’s been a private joke that I’m allowed to do things truly stupid, just not anything tragically stupid.

    Next stop Kenya, in January and February, for research on a standalone novel and a non-fiction book.

    • Ha!! Funny story, Paul. Now that’s dedication. Good luck Kenya. Don’t turn into lion pooh.

      An author friend shared her “research” of a scene she envisioned where the heroine fought off a guy in her living room, ran into the bathroom, and slithered out the window. She invited a male friend over for dinner. For dessert, they reenacted to scene where he pretended to kill her. She fought him off, got to the bathroom, but the bath window was her biggest foe. She snaked out the window, doing a face plant in the grass. I told her that I’d love to be her neighbor.

  3. I’ve had a lot of highpoints to research that were truly memorable, like my trip to DC for a writers conference where I toured the FBI at Quantico, the CIA, the State Dept and the national Post Office. Shooting various weapons at the FBI firing range was literally a blast.

    But my favorite experience was my first one where I took over 45 hours with the Citizens Police Academy in Edmond OK. We heard from every dept (including Homicide where we discussed a real case), shot weapons & blew up stuff at their gun range, and I did a late night ride along with an on duty officer. Through this program, I met my first technical advisor, the Lieutenant conducting the course. He read my book and gave advice on scenes needing authenticity. Great guy. I made him a character in that book.

  4. Really enjoying reading these.

    I don’t really have any stories of my own, except to say you can learn a lot by reading other people’s novels. (Of course you should always double check your facts, in case the information is outdated or not 100% correct.) e.g. I’ve picked up quite a bit about firearms over the years from crime thrillers and military fiction.

    All the Best.

    • Good input, Matthew.

      I like to triple check my facts through online query, nonfiction books onthe topic, and technical experts. You meet interesting people that way.

  5. I love researching my books and have had many excellent experiences, many dealing with proposing my outlandish ideas to experts and having them give me solutions to impossible tasks. But one item I came across during research was hands down the most unique: the Vatican is the only place where you can choose Latin for your language at an ATM.

    • You’ve got tons to research in your books, Joe. Brainstorming with experts is fun. Sometimes your outlandish notions really gets them thinking…and turn them into quasi-bad guys.

  6. I have researched the bigfoot creatures that are alleged to be living in various parts of the country. My story line has to do very much with the creatures, but it is not a maiden-run-screaming-from-the-monsters kind of story. Rather, it has to do with traditions and stories of some Indian people. (Those stories contradict many of the statements and beliefs of many so-called bigfoot field researchers.)

    I have come to the conclusions that, if these creatures exist, some are friendly to humans, and some are the opposite. My own opinion is that, the television shows that portray the creatures only as hail-bigfoot-well-met creatures are putting some people in danger. TheTV folks’ comments that there has never been a case of a bigfoot killing anyone is in direct opposition to the traditions and stories found among a number of the Indian tribes of America.

  7. My one and only research adventure occurred when I traveled from my home town in New South Wales to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia (one side of the country to the other). I wanted to experience all that the protagonist in my YA novel experienced. At the halfway point (Adelaide, South Australia), I wandered through Rundle Mall the same as my protag had. In the story, she is on the run from the police in her state (she’s a runaway) she’s on the up escalator heading for the upper levels and three police officers are on the down escalator. I’ll give you three guesses as to what happened when I traveled on the up the escalator, but I think you’ll only need one 😀
    The next thing to happen was at the police station in Kalgoorlie. I’d already written the scene I’d pay a visit to make sure everything was accurate. When I walked inside and looked around, I stood in the middle of the reception area with my mouth open doing goldfish impressions. My description was identical. Right down to the drink machine in an alcove under the stairs that led up to the detective unit. The senior sergeant in charge was incredibly gracious and after I told him why I why I was there, allowed me to take photos both inside and outside the station. Nothing can beat real life research if you can manage it. I had an absolute blast!

    • Very generous of them to allow you to take photos. I’ve found most people are very generous once you explain what you’re doing. Well done, Lyn.

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