Saturday, November 27, 2010

Research Trip!

One day, many years ago, my characters got stuck in an elevator. They were on the run, in terrible danger, and had to escape fast. But I couldn't help them. They were stuck because I didn't know what the inside of the elevator looked like. I had no idea what their escape options were.

So I packed my three-year-old and my new baby into the car and went elevator hunting.

I drove to the nearest multi-story building I knew of--a satellite campus of the local community college. As I parked I told my three-year-old that we were going riding in an elevator. He was thrilled.

With baby in the stroller and pre-schooler in tow, I breezed in through the front doors like I belonged there. I found an elevator, let my son push the button, and waited.

Fortunately, no one else wanted the elevator at the moment.

We rode up to the top story and back down again. Plenty of time for me to memorize the inside of the elevator, and even try putting my foot on the handrail to give myself a boost up to the emergency hatch on the ceiling. Back on the ground floor, I wheeled the stroller out to the car, buckled everyone in, then drove home to finish writing the scene.

What's the craziest thing you've done for a research trip?


  1. Rebecca, that made me laugh! That's a good one. Most of my crazy research is done online. Several times while I was writing today, my husband came by to talk to me. The first time I was doing a search on terrorist cells in Honduras, and the second time, I was checking out F16 fighter planes, and the third, I was checking out pictures of log home ranches in Montana. He always walks away with a smile, shaking his head.

  2. I love that story!!! I'm with Jonene - most of my research is online. I do have some weird and wacky Google searches :)

  3. Great story...Research can be tough. I needed to get an idea of how the ancient Mayans lived, so my family accompanied me on a trip through the jungle in Beliz. During our journey, we were attacked by mosquitos and everyone dispersed in a full sprint. Since my eldest son insisted on wearing flip flops that day, he had to remove them in order to run. I heard more than one "big squish" as his feet made contact with the local inch worms. At the time it was a horrible experience, but now it's a fond memory. How warped am I????Don't answer that.(: Happy holidays.

  4. I like internet research too, but there's nothing like the real thing. I have fond memories of driving my family down to Tucson to tour the Titan Missile Silo for one of my books, tho it wasn't near as adventurous as your trip, Andrea!

    On Thanksgiving morning, as I was baking pies, my husband was on the internet helping me research the Great Fire of San Francisco. The kids had quite a time watching film footage from a camera on a cable car driving down Market Street in 1906. Research for my writing has truly broadened my life experience, and that of my children.

  5. I helped someone figure out how to handcuff a hostage to the inside of a London bus once, and managed not to trip any security warnings. Another friend was just in town to research locations in London for her next book, so we were walking around Hyde Park looking for a feasible place for a werewolf battle and around Dulwich for a nice house for a master vampire to live in. Needless to say, we didn't advertise that this was what we were doing, but when the book comes out, I know my son will get a kick out of knowing he was wheeled around in a stroller to find these locations.

  6. @Rebecca Awesome! Go, you, with the kiddies in tow! My most recent detour for research was going off the freeway on our anniversary getaway weekend. The hubs indulged me while I tried to talk a Navy base guard into letting me on base to check out the layout of the Naval Hospital. He said I would have to come back when the visitor's center was open. And then proceeded to tell me about the novel he was writing! :)

  7. So fun, Emily. You're living in a real hot-spot for fiction. Love it while you can!

    Sue, isn't it great the places we get to see and the people we can connect with instantly as writers?

    And as for all of you, these tantalizing research tidbits are making me want to read your books!

  8. I've dragged my fam/and or hubby or just myself to the Grand Canyon, spelunking, the Tetons, Mexican beaches, Hawaii, nursing homes, hospitals, fabrication companies, high school lunch rooms, jungle hikes, and even stared into the innards of my daughters old jeep to decide what could break and strand my character in 120 degree heat.

    The writer in me can't seem to go anywhere without placing the setting into a scene. Something in the back of my mind always whispers, "What if?"

  9. ROFL! Rebecca! You're so cute! I had no idea you did this, but it doesn't surprise me with the other research thangs you've done already!

    If you watch me while I'm at my lappie typing away, you may see me doing hand or body gestures--what my MC may be doing at that EXACT moment. Hehe...

  10. Leisha, next time you're in Hawaii you must drop by.

    Elizabeth, that's great! I'm always acting out scenes in my head, and often am unconscious of when my body gets involved. I'll be walking down the street, gesticulating at nothing, and making everyone around me wonder if I'm crazy.

  11. Rebecca, we'll be there in June. :)

  12. Carlson's bed and breakfast will be open for business. Friends stay free.

  13. You are awesome. We may take you up on that for a night. I'll email you. :) And of course, you are always welcome here.


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