Monday, January 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kat Martin on....Researching AGAINST THE FIRE--a Hot Topic!

Everyone thinks writing an historical novel is all about the research, studying the time frame, the political events, the clothes, the mores of the era, that sort of thing. Authors often shy away from writing Regency or Victorian because of the research involved.


What many readers and aspiring writers don’t understand is that writing a contemporary novel can demand just as much research as an historical. In AGAINST THE FIRE, the second book in my Raines brothers trilogy, the plot deals with an arsonist who is determined to ruin, then murder the hero, Gabriel Raines.

The story demanded I write about fires. Which meant I needed to know about fires. What techniques were used to fight fires; what people, besides the firemen who arrived at the scene, were involved? I learned that time arson is suspected, which turns out to be quite often, the arson squad is brought in. There are set procedures, rules that must be followed.

I did a ton of work on the Internet for AGAINST THE FIRE, using sources like the Dallas Fire Department web site. The police and fire departments in the various cities have wonderful, very helpful sites and often even include photos of the buildings where their offices are located.

Since Gabe was a real estate developer who did inner city revitalization projects, I worked with site maps of downtown Dallas. The street names have to be correct, the areas used as settings should be plausible. Lots of people live in Dallas. I did my best to get things right.

Mattie Baker, the heroine of the story, is an architect, which required me to dig up information on what architects actually did. Luckily my husband was an architectural major in college so he helped guide me in the right direction. A good rule is, use sources near you, people you know who know about the subject you’re interested in.

My AAA Auto Club travel books are a staple when I’m writing--both for historical and contemporary. The Texas book was close at hand, providing info on the countryside and the city of Dallas itself. Of course, I’ve traveled there often, and once I knew I’d be writing AGAINST THE FIRE, I tried to familiarize myself with the city as much as I could.

Though the research can be daunting, writing in a book set in the present has its advantages. I love the freedom it allows me as a writer, the broader us of language, the wider variation in theme and character. Certainly today people act in far less structured ways than they did in the Victorian era. (Or maybe they are just more open about their behavior than they were back then!)

I loved writing Gabe and Mattie’s story, which was a different sort of challenge than I faced in writing AGAINST THE WIND, the first book in the trilogy. Gabe is his own man, macho, bull-headed and sexy as hell. Mattie is the perfect woman for him--even if she doesn’t believe it!

I hope you’ll watch for AGAINST THE FIRE, then look for Dev Raines’ story in AGAINST THE LAW.

Till then all best and happy reading, Kat

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to this.