Sunday, August 20, 2017

Research – How it can change a story #OurAuthorGang

Research – How it can change a story

While a fair amount of research can be done via the web, I find that the most effective understandings come from real world experiences.

In 2014, I was researching the suspense novel Dot to Dot and finagled an invite to a wheat farm in northern Michigan. I wanted to see and touch the seeding and harvesting equipment. After climbing about and inside the massive thresher and other heavy duty vehicles, I turned my questions about the crop seasons to the farm owner, who said, “I can tell you about the spring planting, but to get a sense of the size, how about we go up in the sky and take a look?”

Five minutes later, I was in the back seat of a paper thin, fragile crop duster, roaring across a clearing the size of a football field, then aloft, skimming the farm lands at about sixty feet above. No airport, no flight plan, just the owner and I going out for a little spin. In the sky.

We were up for an hour, covering miles of fields, lifting only for power lines and the taller trees. My seat in this paper mache aircraft was made of rattling aluminum and the tail fin cables worked back and forth at my elbows. When we turned, and we made many of those, the wingtip appeared to be inches off the dirt.

Needless to say, this was a delightful experience that changed the focus of a section of the novel. The road trip I had sketched for Pierce Danser then became a flight; a brave and terrifying new experience for him.

Have your own research adventures that you would like to share? Send them along!

All the best,

Greg Jolley
The Danser Novels

Twitter: @gfjolle

 A Small Gang of Authors

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