Saturday, July 18, 2015

Research: Guest Blogger: Author Gloria Ferris

Gloria Ferris is one of those naturally witty people who make you feel comfortable and happy in her presence at hello. She adds that intelligent humor to her books, along with well-researched, exciting plots and hilarious characters who  ought to be real so we could follow them around and have fun with them.
Here's Gloria's treatise on research for your enlightenment and entertainment!
For my first four books, I’ve researched spirit guides, guns, antiques, architecture, Honduran laws and policing, gangs, jungle plants, motorcycles, body putrefaction, WWII weapons, greenhouse construction, poisons, witchcraft, abandoned cemeteries...

The list goes on. And I loved the time I spent on every subject.

 I think the most challenging research came about because my publisher added the sub-title “A Cornwall & Redfern Mystery” to the cover of my second novel, CORPSE FLOWER. 
Bliss Cornwall was my protagonist and Neil Redfern was the Chief of Police. I hadn’t intended that Neil become a co-protagonist, but now I had to ramp up his role in the second book, SHROUD OF ROSES. I knew nada about small town policing so reached out to the police chief of the small town on Lake Huron where I lived for over 20 years and which is the inspiration for my fictional town of Lockport.

We corresponded for over a year, and he answered my most inane questions with patience and good humour. Each summer I rent a cottage for a week in my former hometown and last year I asked if we could meet. He offered to give me a personal tour of the station. Heck ya! Here was my chance to see how a real, small town police service operated. Keep in mind I was a law abiding citizen while I lived there so I had no personal experience with the police. (Okay, once I had to bail my dog out, but that wasn’t my fault. Oh, yeah, and the time I backed out of my driveway into the car parked in the suicide spot. Again, not my fault.)

I presented myself at the station on time and was asked by the teenage receptionist to have a seat in the conference room. I was a bit nervous. With my notebook and pen ready, I waited a couple of minutes. And then the door opened.

Holy mama! May I be struck dead by a Taser jolt if the guy in uniform standing in the doorway wasn’t the living embodiment of my hot fictional Chief Neil Redfern. Right down to the spiky blond hair. How could this be? Could I have channelled him into my fiction?

He showed me the cells (really clean), interrogation room, state-of-the-art fingerprinting machine, weapons room, evidence storage (eau de pot!) but I neglected to jot down a single note. I tried not to stare, but subtlety isn’t one of my several virtues. It’s all a bit of a blur.

Next month when I have my lakeside holiday, I’ll drop off a copy of SHROUD OF ROSES at the station, to thank Neil … I mean, the chief, for all his help. I believe I should also give him a copy of CORPSE FLOWER, the first Cornwall & Redfern mystery written before I met the real deal. Just to prove I didn’t use him as the model for Neil Redfern. However, I must not simper. I must not giggle…
SHROUD OF ROSES comes out TODAY, July 18, 2015! 

Gloria Ferris is the award-winning author of humorous mysteries Cheat the Hangman, Corpse Flower and Shroud of Roses. Her first co-written suspense venture with author Donna Warner, Targeted, will be released in the fall of 2015. When not writing, Gloria works on character profiles, researches plot lines, reads continuously, and is often heard to mutter, “I wish I’d written that!”. She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, the Crime Writers’ Association (UK), and the International Thriller Writers. She lives in southwestern Ontario.


Alison E. Bruce said...

OMG! That's so cool. As is often the case with us, I had a parallel experience. In this case it was a voice. My father's insurance broker sounded exactly like the romantic hero of my paranormal suspense (waiting in the wings for now). The voice was extremely important since the romantic relationship starts while he is talking to her to keep her company while she is trapped.

Anyway, his voice was so real to me, I fell in love with it along with my heroine. So, when I was dealing with my father's estate, and I heard that voice on the phone... Leave us say, it was hard to concentrate on the insurance details. Being incurably honest and possibly certifiably insane, I fessed up... much to his delight.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately since he was married, he didn't look anything like my hero.

Donna Carrick said...

Terrific and fun article, Gloria! Thanks for posting this, Cathy.

Kristina Stanley said...

Sometimes research can be the fun part of writing. Gloria - what's the weirdest thing you discovered while researching?

Gloria Ferris Mystery Writer said...

Ali, these cannot be coincidences. If time is a loop instead of a straight line, well, who knows. You might somehow have heard the insurance broker's voice and I might have met Neil's counterpart BEFORE we wrote our books.
Thanks for your comment, Donna. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.
Kristina, research for me really is the best part of writing. As for the weirdest discovery, I think it would have to be the new, alternative form of human burial which will show up in the next Cornwall & Redfern mystery.

Alison E. Bruce said...

That wouldn't happen to be promession, would it? I've told my kids that if the Body farm won't take me, I want to be disposed of via promession. After all, they freeze-dry coffee, don't they?

Kristina Stanley said...

I hadn't expected an alternative form of human buried. Now I'll have to read the next Cornwall and Redfern mystery just to find out what it is.

Kristen Henderson said...

Wow! As always Cathy your guests amaze me. Thanks for sharing Gloria!

artsyhelen said...

I really look forward to the new book!!