Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Author Laura DiSilverio: Research And A Giveaway

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Laura DiSilverio as the specialDisilverio, Laura 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 DiamantĂ©, 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. 

Die_Buying_BigI 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.



  1. Laura, thanks again for stopping by and talking with us about research. Going that bit extra adds so much to a book. Best of luck with DIE BUYING.

  2. Congratulations to Laura on her new book. I do appreciate and enjoy it when an author does a lot of research and is then able to give me in depth descriptions of the different aspects of the story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  3. Laura--Interesting! I never knew that about mall security. Good lesson that it's always good to double-check our facts!

  4. I would love to read this book. I am not a writer but I think that there are always things that you would never think of connected to different jobs. Side duties, secrets and other things that make it even more interesting.


  5. Hi all--

    Mason, thanks for having me here today.

    Maureen--THanks for dropping in. It's good to know reasearch pays off in a better reading experience.

    Elizabeth--THe security force not having keys, and the cameras, makes it tricky to plot my mysteries!

    Carol--You're exactly right. The people who actually do the job/task you're researching have the best stories/secrets. Half the time, they're so bizarre you can't use them because readers wouldn't believe something like that could happen.

  6. Forgive me for signing in as Lila Dare--my pen name for the Southern Beauty Shop mysteries--but I couldn't figure out how to leave a comment here under Laura DiSilverio since I don't have a Google account in that name. Most frustrating!!

  7. Congratulations on your release. I enjoyed this informative and lovely post today. Malls are daunting to me due to the size so I usually avoid them. This book sounds compelling.

  8. Congratulation to Laura on the new book! I loved the description - "EJ" sounds like a great character and I like that she's a young woman too. I like the idea of the extra research for the story...as a reader it makes it more real to me - it's more fleshed out and adds a touch of realism to the story. Thanks for the giveaway!


  9. thanks for this interesting feature today. An enjoyable book. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. I love the title of this book. angiepaxton1(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. What an interesting post. I'm glad you found someone who was helpful.

  12. Hi Laura. Hi Mason. Very informative post. I would never have guessed some of those mall facts.

    Finding the right person to answer questions is a challenge...until you tell them you're writing a mystery. Most people enjoy being a part of the process, especially if they get a big thank-you in the Acknowledgements.

  13. Hi Traveler--I find I enjoy malls less now than I did when I was younger. Not sure why.

    Thanks for writing, Maria. I hope you like EJ when you read the book.

    Hi Petite--I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had fun writing it.

    Angie--I get a kick out of coming up with titles. The second one in this series is ALL SALES FATAL.

    Hi Cozy--As Patricia points out, people tend to be quite helpful if they know you're an author. Folks love to talk about their area of expertise to someone who's really interested, too!

  14. Laura,

    Thanks for sharing those interesting facts about mall security guards. I already have your book and I can't wait to read it.

  15. Laura, It's so true that we don't always know what we think we know. And I'll add to this that often we are so close to something that we don't see it--as in our own environment. How can we write about what we know if we don't open our eyes. Whew, I think that was my point.

    Mason, Thanks for being the hostess with the mostess.

  16. I'm a reader who enjoys the extras authors put into their works. I love learning new things in my reading, no matter what genre the book.

    The Mall Cop Series sounds fun. Thanks for visiting. (Email in profile.)

  17. Hi Mason and Laura

    As a Canadian, I'm not entering for the giveaway but I wanted to say how much this book is appealing. Definitely on my TBR.
    And the cover: wow...

  18. Hey, all, sorry I've been gone all afternoon but I was hiking with the fam. On the bright side, now I have a Google account in my own name! :-)

    Hi Dru--Thanks for getting DB. I hope you enojy it.

    Teresa--I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes, too, we're so close to our own environments that we don't recognize the details that would be fascinating to "outsiders."

    LSU Reader--My brother and his wife bleed purple and gold, too. Thanks for commenting today.

    Hi Danielle-Momo--I'm with you: I love this cover. It's my favorite of all my books.


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