Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Guest Post from Debra Purdy Kong: RESEARCH, WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH

I met Debra Purdy Kong through Crime Writers of Canada.
Staying in touch through Facebook and other crime-related
events (no jail time involved) has allowed me to get to know her 
and appreciate not only her talent but her determination. She's
one of those people who supports her colleagues and gives
thoughtful, intelligent feedback and inspiration. Here's her
insightful look at research.

For crime fiction writers, finding ideas is easy. All we have to do is turn to news sources. Research, however, is another matter, but these five strategies really help:

leg work
firsthand experience
expert interviews and consultants
internet research

For me, leg work is important. When I incorporate foreign settings, I choose places I’ve been to and find something specific about them to weave into a story. In my first Casey Holland mystery, The Opposite of Dark, one of the chapters is set in Amsterdam. I mention the pricey McDonald's hamburgers and the ubiquitous dirt particles that swirled over Casey’s hair and face whenever the wind blew. These memories have stayed with me over the years.

Firsthand experience is the most time-consuming type of research, yet it's become invaluable. Employment in security added authenticity for the Holland series and my recently released Evan Dunstan novella, Dead Man Floating. I didn't set out to incorporate day jobs into short stories and novels. It just worked out that way. The security field had interested me, so I answered an ad in the paper and wound up training as a campus guard, dispatcher, and later a supervisor.

Networking in person and online is another great resource. Discussions about my work have put me in touch with IT and forensics experts, for instance. Twitter helped me connect with a bus driver who is now my consultant on a current Casey Holland mystery.

Many times, you don’t even need a referral to find an expert. Universities, organizations, and libraries have links to databases listing all sorts of people willing to answer questions. One question often leads to another and soon you're gathering knowledge to about things you hadn't known to ask. Once you’ve identified an expert, a short, polite email query often gets the ball rolling.

It might seem strange, but Google research is the resource I've used least so far. It’s probably because I've had the benefit of working in the same field as my protagonists and set most of my stories locally. But I hope to expand my horizons. I’m mulling over new work in a different genre and research needs will definitely expand. I can't wait to see where the search will take me.

Link to Dead Man Floating: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Floating-Evan-Dunstan-Mystery-ebook/dp/B014K0UY1A


Propping the kickstand, Evan removed the small flashlight attached to his belt then stepped nearer the water. Oh shit! It was a hand! A freakin’ hand! And legs! He moved the flashlight up the body until he spotted the grey fringe circling a bald head that glowed like a moon. Evan shivered. Was the guy alive? He wouldn’t have to perform CPR, would he? That first-aid course last year didn’t go so well after he broke that manikin.


Author of six full-length mysteries and over fifty short stories, Debra has won numerous awards for her work. She conducts workshops, is an administrative assistant at Simon Fraser University, and also works as a substitute facilitator for the creative writing program with Port Moody Parks & Recreation.

More information about Debra’s books and her blog can be found at www.debrapurdykong.com
Also visit her FB Author Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mystery-Author-Debra-Purdy-Kong/139005706175139
Or find her on Twitter @DebraPurdyKong

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