Friday, June 25, 2010

Dee Davis, Guest Blogging

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Dee Davis on a return visit to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger here today.

Dee is currently touring the blogsphere with her latest book, DANGEROUS DESIRES, the next installment in her A-Tac Series.

Thanks to Dee, Anna and the folks at the Hachette Book Group I have five copies of DANGEROUS DESIRES to giveaway. Please see the giveaway guidelines at the end of this post.

Dee has stopped by today to explain how she goes about doing research for her series and to tell us if she tries to keep it realistic?

Doing research for a series can be daunting at times. Especially when you’re trying to maintain accuracy across a number of books. Although it’s important to get the big things right. And often you spend most of your time researching these.

It’s also important to nail the little things. If a heroine makes fun of umbrella drinks in the first book—she’d better not be caught with a Mai Tai in book six. And if the hero has a problem with all things technical—we’d better not see him hacking into a computer without a lot of complaining.  

If a character has a mustache or a scar in book two, he’d better still have it in book three unless there’s an explanation as to why. Readers remember. Sometimes authors don’t. Which is why for series we often create story bibles. Notes that remind us of the details of our characters’ lives. 

For bigger issues, research can come from anywhere. I typically tend to do it as I go along – unless I need to do advance research for a particular part of the plot. For instance when I wrote Enigma, the heroine was an expert in bombs working with the ATF and I wanted to be sure I had at least of basic understanding of how her job would work, as well as rudimentary knowledge about the bombs the antagonist was going to use in the book. To do that I started with basic information about working for the ATF and then moved up into more specifics as I began to explore different kinds of bombs.  

For Dancing in the Dark, I read Mind Hunter, an excellent book about the inner workings of serial killers. For Chain Reaction, I read about the poisonous frogs of South America in an effort to understand how the venom could potentially (and only in my imagination) be used as a weapon of mass destruction. That research actually lead me to deciding to set Dangerous Desires in Colombia. And so for my newest book, I read a lot about the Colombian jungles and the specific area of the Andes that I chose for the book’s setting. 

As I mentioned earlier, I also do a lot of research as I go along. As the story develops I may come up with a scenario that I think will take me to the next plot point. But I need to be certain that it’s at least plausible. I talked with experts in climbing to assure that the climbing scene in Dark Deceptions was reasonable. I’ve talked with prison employees about what bus one would take when being released from Rikers Island, linguists to make sure my use of Gaelic in my two Scottish books was correct, and even secured permission to use excerpts from websites about the real life places I used in A Match Made on Madison.

So is everything I write realistic? No. It’s fiction. And as a writer, I’m allowed to stretch the truth. Move a building. Invent a city. Even a weapon. But I always try to make certain that it’s at least plausible. And in some cases, like with Desperate Desires, I work hard to make certain that the setting, even one I’m not completely familiar with, is believable.  

One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten on a book was that the reader believed I was from Atlanta, where Dark of the Night was set. I’ve never lived there – I just did my homework. And that’s what research is all about.

So do you tend to notice inaccuracies in a book? Or does it just wash on by?

Dee, thanks so much for stopping by today and explaining about your research. Keeping the details from one book to the next is important. As a reader I know I’ve read a series where one of the main character’s name was changed from book one to book two and later an occupation was changed for another character. Guess it happens.

For more information on Dee check out her website at www.deedavis.com and she also blogs at The Whine Sisters.


Here’s a brief synopsis of DANGEROUS DESIRES: “As the extractions expert for A-Tac, an elite CIA black ops unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college, Drake Flynn knows how to survive behind enemy lines. But he's about to meet one adversary he can't subdue . . . or resist. A RACE FOR SURVIVAL Stranded in the Colombian jungle after a mission goes bad, Drake has only one objective: evade the mercenaries hot on his trail and deliver "the package" to U.S. officials. But "the package" has a mind of her own, and she has no intention of trading one set of captors for another. Madeline Reynard is beautiful, headstrong, and hell-bent on escape after years as a crime lord's pawn. She'll risk everything for freedom, even if it means deceiving the dark, handsome operative who now holds her life in his hands. Drake has been burned too many times to let a woman manipulate him, especially a secretive one like Madeline. Even so, they cannot deny the attraction between them. Now as enemy forces close in, Drake and Madeline must trust each other with their lives-or face certain death.”

Now for the giveaway guidelines: I have five copies of DANGEROUS DESIRES to giveaway. To enter the giveaway send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com) with “Win Dangerous” in the subject line and be sure to include your name and address in the body of the e-mail. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. The giveaway ends at 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, July 15.



21 comments:

  1. Dee, thanks so much for stopping by today and talking about your research with us. Best of luck.

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  2. Wow, keeping track of details from one book to another. Although, I wish I had that issue to deal with, my memory is horrible. I need to set up a spreadsheet. Great info, Dee.

    Thanks, Mason, for another interesting author. Have a great weekend.

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  3. I understand keeping track of details! With five books in my series, I had to design detailed character sheets, outlines for each book, and a full month-by-month outline following all five main characters so I'd know what they were doing even when offscreen. Readers will catch those little slips!!

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  4. You make a great point. It's so important to make sure you keep a character bible. I find it irritating to read stories where people's personality change so much between books. Thank you for your reminder.

    CD

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  5. I like research when writing. Not only does it help to expand the plot and characterization, adding layers, but it definitely makes the situations plausible. To me, that's a crucial element in a book, the believability factor.

    Thanks Mason and Dee!

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  6. As I get older, I tend to remember fewer details, so it doesn't matter to me as much as it used to. Very interesting interview. Thanks to both of you.
    Karen

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  7. If I read something I know is wrong, it'll pull me out of the story. I may keep reading or not, depending on how big the goof is. Everyone gets some things wrong, but most of them slip right past me.

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  8. Great post. I'm a research junkie, so if something I know about is incorrect in a book I'm reading, it jars. Too many and I'll put the book down.

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  9. I definitely get pulled out of a story when something is wrong. So I'm with you Helen! And Dianne sounds like you've worked out a great system! And don't I know it when talking about remembering and my age. YEESH!

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  10. Hi all, thanks for stopping by. I'm off to work. Have a great day.

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  11. I enjoyed reading this post! THank you.

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  12. Really enjoyed reading this, because keeping track of the details is something I find really hard. Thanks Mason and Dee!

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  13. Unless it is a major goof, it will slip right past me. As long as the story is holding me, I keep reading. BTW, read your last book and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Keep them coming.

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  14. I really enjoyed Dee's comments, not just about continuity, but about the research too, especially something one wouldn't normally have life experience in!

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  15. The books she read for research sound interesting...and so does her book!

    Thanks for another great author glimpse, Mason.

    Michele
    Southern City Mysteries

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  16. I'm a born researcher, I love that part of the process. My problem is knowing when to stop. And if I read something that indicates a writer didn't to his or her research, I will stop reading.

    But as far as keeping track of the small things from one book to another? That's hard!

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  17. VR -- I know what you mean about not knowing when to stop. Research can become obsessive. Especially when you veer off topic into something related that grabs your interest!

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  18. I definitely notice inaccuracies (when I know the subject.)

    Thanks for sharing your researching process!

    All the best,
    Corra

    The Victorian Heroine

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  19. Great post I love the research that goes into books to make them historically correct .I follow on google
    flanagan@mebtel.net

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  20. I always love reading about the authors and the background on the books. I would love to win this one. ybutler@oppcatv.com

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  21. Sometimes I notice the inaccuracies, but they mostly just wash on by.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.