Share Your Latest Adventure Into Research – Geek Out, Writers!

We’re all done some interesting things for the sake of research, some pretty far fetched while others might be things we never thought we’d do.

Share your latest or most memorable forays into research and what you learned. Do you have any funny stories about your experiences?

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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 also pens young-adult novels for Harlequin Teen. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs.

12 thoughts on “Share Your Latest Adventure Into Research – Geek Out, Writers!

  1. Wasn’t me, but I had a friend who once had herself locked into a coffin so she’d know the experience for a novel (psychological suspense) she was writing.

    Fortunately she described the experience well enough for me that I’ll never have to go quite that far. (She wanted the coffin locked so she could hear the “click” while she was in there. She did, and for that brief moment hoped she could trust the guy to let her out.)

  2. Does a Caribbean cruise count? No funny stories, just a great time and a novella in my Mapleton mystery series to show for it.

    I also spent time on a working cattle ranch for my Triple-D Ranch series. Managed to rope myself.

    Another time, I queried a group about whether a person could get in or out of the rear window on a Ford F-150 and had several people tell me they went and tried it. I did go to the Ford dealership and take measurements. The only time I’ve been to a car dealership and NOBODY approached me to try to sell me a vehicle.
    Ended up cutting the scene, so it didn’t really matter.

  3. Currently, I am “befriending” an artificial intelligence to get a better sense of how “smart” A.I. currently is so I know how much an A.I. can actually do in a novel set today.

  4. I spent several hours touring the county jail where I grew up. It is a 1300 bed facility that has a maximum security wing for men who are either awaiting trial for violent felonies or have been convicted of them (a small percentage serve their entire term there). I was nervous but not too scared until the sheriff checked his gun at the first checkpoint, explaining this was for our safety so nobody could take his weapon and hold us hostage. We entered a long narrow hallway lined with benches inside the medical wing. The forensic psychiatrist’s office was at the end (I wanted to talk to her forever!). Those benches were crowded with inmates close enough to grab me and wring my neck. Yeah, there would have been hell to pay but too late for me. That’s when I became so frightened my knees turned to water. It was a deeply moving and disturbing experience. I am so grateful to have gone but I don’t want to see the inside of a jail ever again.

  5. Toured the Paris catacombs. (highly recommended if you’re there)
    Got lost in the Everglades (pre-GPS and as sun was going down…very scary)
    Toured a jail and was shocked to hear an inmate call out my name as I passed. Turned out it was my brother-in-law. True story.

  6. I went through four grueling years of menopause, not by choice. But all fodder to create the hilarious novel The Menopause Murders (laugh at http://www.themenopausemurders.com). I figured rather than kill people, I’d channel my misery into humor. I went to Tacoma, WA, to scout out locations and came up with fun ways to kill off irritating misogynists. I chose the setting because of an image of my heroine killing someone with a big dead salmon purchased at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. Yes, the trip was an excuse for a tax writeoff and that great garlic smoked salmon at the fish market.

  7. My most memorable research experience comes not from my fiction writing, but a university geography project.

    In May 1989, I hiked into the Stein Valley, near Whistler, BC, to view and photograph some native pictographs to support a paper I was writing.

    Halfway up, I stupidly slipped in the fast-rushing Stein River while getting a drink of water. I truly thought I was dead and can still vividly see the stark fear on my boyfriend’s (now husband) face as scrambled along the river bank, trying to keep up with me. After going under several times, I finally managed to beat the current enough to grab onto a rock and get myself out.

    I’m most proud of the fact I continued the hike to get the damn photos! (Got an A on the paper too.) ; )

    None of my subsequent research has brought me that close to death. My trip to Scotland last October for research on my historical WIP was thrilling, but thankfully more sedate.

  8. I have a writer friend who asked me to put her in a bag in the trunk of my car and drive around town with her.

    She wanted to be gagged and tied up to be able to experience how difficult it might be to move. How uncomfortable it would be.

    She wanted to experience the smells and the sounds. She also wanted to see if she could keep track of where we were if we were in a town she was familiar with.

    We did this several times because she wanted to experiment with knowing how well she could hear my voice if I talked normally while driving. Could she eavesdrop on a phone call? Could she hear the radio? How well could she distinguish the sounds that were outside of the car. She wanted to feel what is was like to drive on asphalt, gravel, dirt roads, etc.

    I would do what she wanted and every 20 minutes or so she would get out and furiously take notes before crawling back in to do it again after giving me new instructions.

    It was a strange weekend.

  9. In the winter I’m less apt to do research stunts, but we did go for a walk to check out a perfect body dump location before the snow got too deep. All was fine till we saw the “Copperhead Den” sign. Then we climbed up wet, slick rocks that went at a 45 degree angle, with only a wire railing to hang onto. I am NOT a fan of heights to begin with, but we wanted to get to the top of this amazing waterfall that spills into a lagoon-type pool. The waterfall never made it into the book, but the Copperhead den did. Ha!

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