It’s my pleasure to welcome author Laura DiSilverio as the special guest blogger today as she drops in to talk about writing and her new book and series.
Laura’s new series is the Mall Cop Mysteries and her first installment in the series is DIE BUYING, which launches today. Thanks to Laura and Kaitlyn at Berkly Prime Crime I can offer 1 copy of DIE BUYING to a lucky visitors commenting on today’s post. Please be sure to see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.
Here’s a brief synopsis of DIE BUYING: Emma-Joy “EJ” Ferris, a security officer with the Fernglen Galleria, likes mall cop work, although it’s usually more humdrum than the military policing she did until a Taliban sniper left her with a bum knee and a medical retirement at thirty-one. Back home in Vernonville, Virginia, EJ deals with shoplifters, teens spray-painting Christian graffiti on cars, and a boss who acts like the halls of Fernglen are the mean streets of Newark. She also copes with her 83-year-old Grandpa Atherton, a long-retired CIA operative who likes to “keep his hand in” by purchasing all the latest techno-gadgets and spying on mall customers and shopkeepers. EJ’s boredom vanishes the week someone “liberates” all the reptiles, including a 15-ft python, from The Herpetology Hut and a body turns up, posed as a mannequin, in the window of Diamanté, an upscale boutique. EJ must quickly catch the killer since fear of another murder is emptying the mall faster than you can say “All sales final.”
Laura has joined us to talk about writing in general and research in particular.
The old writing adage says “Write what you know.” Well, sometimes you don’t know what you think you know.
Take my research for my latest series, the Mall Cop mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). I thought I knew malls. I’ve spent more hours in malls than Michael Phelps has spent in swimming pools. I’ve shopped in them, movied in them, and had my hair done in them. I’ve tossed pennies in mall fountains and taken my kids to see mall Santas. I’ve visited malls in the nation’s capital and in L.A., in twenty or thirty states, England, and the Philippines.
But, when I set out to write about a mall security officer, my fictional Emma-Joy “EJ” Ferris, I figured I should talk to a real one, even though I was pretty sure I knew everything there was to know about malls. Boy, was I wrong.
I assumed mall security personnel had keys to all the stores. Wrong-o. (They don’t so they and the mall won’t be liable for any losses.) I thought the mall would have a centralized roster of all employees. Wrong again. (Employee lists are maintained separately by each store.) And I had only the vaguest notion of how security camera systems worked or how many cameras a medium-sized mall was likely to have. (Security folks don’t like to give out specific numbers, but somewhere between 150-200, in most cases.)
Luckily, the Director of Security at my local mall set me right on the above topics and many more. In addition to talking to him, I spent many more hours at the mall—no, not shopping. I spent that time observing security officers, looking for the cameras, and exploring the spaces that mall visitors don’t usually see: halls behind shops, administrative offices, utility closets, loading docks.
All of which is a long way of saying don’t take it for granted that you know what you think you know. Take the time to do a couple of interviews, do a bit of extra research, find the behind-the-scene details that make your setting come alive. If you can spend that research time in a variety of malls, you’re better off than if you have to delve into the particulars of emptying port-a-potties, or patching potholes in August in Arizona. Just something to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide where to set your next book.
Laura, thanks for guest blogging. I’m like you, I thought mall security personnel would have keys to all the stores in order to check inside each after closing. Extra research does pay off. Wishing you much success with DIE BUYING and your new series.
Now a little research on Laura. She spent twenty years as an Air Force intelligence officer before retiring in Colorado with her husband, two daughters, and a dog.
For more on Laura and her writing, check out her website at http://www.lauradisilverio.com and “Like” Laura on Facebook.
I am able to offer 1 copy of DIE BUYING as a giveaway. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and addresses with post office boxes can’t be accepted. To enter the giveaway, just comment on Laura’s post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Aug. 9. Be sure to include your e-mail address, if it’s not included in your profile.
What do you think of extra research for a story? If you’re an author, do you take that extra step to ensure you have all your facts straight? As a reader, do you think the extra effort adds to the storyline? Share your thoughts and thanks for stopping by.