A Writer’s Research

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aaba9e43117fdf370528f339bc5bf524--commemorative-coins-police-badges.jpgBelieve it or not, I started writing before the Internet was widely available. In those days, I bought research books by the armful whenever I attended a writers’ conference. I received a couple of newspapers monthly that sold books of interest to writers. My kids got an education I hadn’t reckoned on when they and their friends would skulk about my office when I wasn’t looking 🙂 There’s still a book in there that is hidden, for that reason!

With the advent of the world-wide web, the task of research became immeasurably easier. All of a sudden, writers could network outside conferences. Information was much easier to find. And most notably, experts in areas of interest became accessible.

COLD DARK PLACES (available 12/18) is the first book in a trilogy about US Deputy Marshal Cady Maddix stationed in Asheville. TI’ve been in regular contact with the USMS in Charlotte, NC. The deputy marshal invited me to come to North Carolina and tour the office. Of course, I was thrilled. When I asked to tour the Asheville office he put me in touch with a Deputy Marshal there. A couple of weeks ago we made a quick trip to NC and went to the USMS field office to speak with the marshal in person.

I’d hoped to get more pictures. But federal courthouses these days are extra security conscious. Our cell phones had to be locked in a locker before we were allowed to enter. The marshal met us and we went to a conference room where he answered the multitude of questions I had for him: How are marshals in Fugitive Investigations assigned? How do they introduce themselves? What weapon do they use? What’s the biggest obstacle when searching for a fugitive? What are their hours? What do they wear? Drive? When I was finished firing questions (for the moment), he gave us a tour and then we sat in on a federal trial in progress. (Note: holding cells look *really* uncomfortable!)


One day of the trip we went to nearby Waynesville in Haywood County. Cady lives in this area, and much of the story takes place there. I like to build a strong sense of place in my stories and it helps quite a bit to be able to visualize the spot. I can best do that if I’ve been there. Waynesville is located in the foothill of the was surprisingly charming, nestled between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains. We continued on, driving around towns that are mentioned in my book (and some that may be mentioned later in the trilogy).

Research can be conducted quite thoroughly online these days. But getting to see my story setting in person places me more deeply into the story as I’m writing. I enjoyed every minute of walking in Cady Maddix’s footsteps!

***Current news: as noted above, the release for COLD DARK PLACES has been moved up from Jan. 2019 to Dec. 2018. And so far, PRETTY GIRLS DANCING is going to Italy, The Czech Republic and Hungary! For those who haven’t read the story yet, it’s on sale for $2.49 all month on Amazon!


2 thoughts on “A Writer’s Research”

  1. WillaWilla

    That’s soooo interesting. Do you also get a sense of atmosphere when you visit the place – that you don’t get from the Internet?

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