Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On Fire! Kristina Stanley on Researching Arson

Thank you, Catherine, for hosting me.
Are you kidding? Thank you for being here! I am always happy to host a hot writer.
I mean, a writer who's hot. You know, popular.
Oh. Okay.
Also, it was a little play on words...you know, your research on fire...hot...right?
Oh, I see. You're funny.
Is that funny ha ha or funny strange...?

Kristina actually only said that first sentence. The rest I made up. Surprise! Seriously, I am THRILLED to have Kristina Stanley do a return post on research for her second novel. The scenarios are so different, from snow and cold to fire and heat. Her first novel was terrific! I'm looking forward to reading the second.

She also gives a little teaser for her third novel and by the sounds of it, we'll all want to hear about THAT research too!

 Now, here's the real Kristina Stanley.
Every novel has a unique subject, giving an author an opportunity to research and learn about something new. I write the Stone Mountain Mystery series that takes place in the remote mountains of British Columbia.

For DESCENT (1st in the series), the majority of my research focused on ski racing and ski tuning. For BLAZE (2nd in the series), arson is the crime, so fire fighting was the research topic.

The idea for BLAZE came to me while I was the director of security at a ski resort. Late one night, my phone rang. A set of condos was on fire. My role for the night was to manage the scene surrounding the fire. This included calling for ambulance and RCMP backup, finding rooms for guests who had been displaced, arranging crowd control, and ensuring the firefighters had food and water during the night. The firefighters did all the hard work and saved many condos from burning to the ground.

By morning, I had an idea for a story and had just been given first hand research.

By being on the site of a major fire, my senses and thoughts were filled with:

-       Smell and sounds. Alarms, floors crashing, commands being shouted, burning debris…
-       Water, water everywhere. This is where I learned how much water damage occurs while trying to put out a fire.
-       Fear of people being hurt. I knew many of the firefighters personally, and watching them inside a burning building is stressful.
-       Worry about pets. Luckily no pets were hurt.
-       Desperation of a person whose home is burning.  Standing beside some who is losing their home fills one with a variety of emotions.

These senses and emotions were incorporated into BLAZE. The trick was to turn the experience into a story. With my imagination triggered, I decided arson was the crime, Kalin Thompson was the suspected victim, and I needed to add a forest fire to heighten the danger.

The next step in the research process was to interview firefighters.

-       This was more valuable than reading about events. A firefighter can tell you what they would wear for different fires. I learned about gear for a forest fire versus a structural fire, what a man-down alarm sounds like, and what a firefighter would think and feel while working in a burning building.

After the interviews, I expanded my knowledge with online research.
-       I read news about fires.
-       I watched videos – there is always a video. A little aside about researching for my novel AVALANCHE, if you want to scare yourself google “what does it feel like to be caught in an avalanche," watch one of the go pro videos of a person being buried. I did this and had to go for a walk just to calm down. Now that’s exciting research.

The final step in my research process was to have a firefighter read the fire scenes for accuracy and believability. My thought was if a firefighter believed the scene, then others would too.

Research can be an exciting part of the novel-writing adventure. Just be sure you don’t get so involved in the research that you forget to write.

My Facebook launch party for BLAZE (https://www.facebook.com/events/1630121803934943/) is this coming Sunday, October 25th from 4 to 6 PM EST. I would love to see you there.

For added Facebook excitement, Catherine will be giving away a copy of LEGACY at the BLAZE Facebook launch party. If you’re not familiar with a launch party, drop on by and chat with authors, maybe win a book, and socialize online. I’ve met some fun online friends this way.

Kristina’s Bio

Kristina Stanley is the author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her books have garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated DESCENT for the Unhanged Arthur award. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated BLAZE for the Debut Dagger. She is published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Before writing her series, Kristina was the director of security, human resources and guest services at a resort in the depths of the British Columbian mountains. The job and lifestyle captured her heart, and she decided to write mysteries about life in an isolated resort. While writing the first four novels, she spent five years living aboard a sailboat in the US and the Bahamas.

Instead of exchanging vows, Kalin Thompson spends her wedding day running from a forest fire near Stone Mountain Resort, and the pregnant friend trapped with her has just gone into labor. Meanwhile, Kalin’s fiancé, Ben Timlin, hangs from the rafters of a burning building, fighting for his life. Can the situation get any hotter?

When the fire is declared as arson, finding the firebug responsible becomes Kalin’s personal mission. In the course of her investigation as Director of Security, she discovers that some people will go to extreme measures to keep her from exposing their secrets.

I love to connect with people online. I can be found at: www.KristinaStanley.com

Follow me on twitter, let me know you read this blog and I’ll follow you back. @StanleyKMS

Or comment on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KristinaStanley.Author

If you're looking for something to read and you haven’t read DESCENT yet, now is your chance before BLAZE comes out. Find it at:  http://mybook.to/Descent

And if you have read DESCENT, I’d be very excited if you pre-ordered BLAZE http://myBook.to/BLAZEbyKristinaStanley

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