Author Override is the place where authors take the reins and take you on a journey into their world. Some may allow you into their private writing dens. Others may take you along with them on research trips or interviews. Whatever the case may be, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride because here you’ll get an in-depth look into an author’s musings.
Facts are pesky, yet not:
Confessions of a UF writer writing romantic suspense
by Carolyn Crane
So, one of the dirty little secrets of the urban fantasy writer, or at least, the way I do urban fantasy—you get to make everything up. We’re talking zero research. Some urban fantasy writers research myths and traditions, or witchy words etc., but I never did that. And I set my books in an alternate Chicago/Milwaukee, so I got total freedom to imagine the city, yet base it on reality.
It was awesome!
I always pitied my peers writing mysteries, or suspense, or heaven forbid, historicals. In a historical, you can’t even send your heroine across town to buy a hat without answering half a billion Ph.D.-level questions: what would a woman of her social class in that year ride in? What would she wear? What are the roads like? Does she need a chaperone? Are there even hat stores? Would it be a milliner or what? What would the hats look like?
So, I was happy in my totally made-up world. And then I got really into romantic suspense. I mean, I’ve been loving romantic suspense for years, especially Anne Stuart, but I never imagined myself writing it, what with all the guns and criminology and tactics, subjects I know zero about. Which would mean RESEARCH. (Cue ominous music.)
But then last winter I had this idea for a series that I desperately wanted to write. So I went for it, research and all.
Okay, let me tell you, romantic suspense is an insanely realistic genre!! Real world, real places, real kinds of people, real laws, real weapons, real injuries.
I found the need to do research and use real facts annoying at first. I wasn’t used to problems like, okay, my hero was shot yesterday, can he really have sex today? Can he lift the heroine? In the past, the hero would have sex if I wanted him to have sex, even with multiple bullet and stab wounds, and that was that—there was always some mind-zingy workaround.
No more of that. So now I’ve started doing actual research.
So for example, my hero in my first book, Cole, is a math and logistics whiz in addition to being a badass agent. Logistics is a field I know nothing about, so I had to read these books on it to at least make him sound like he knew what he was talking about. A.k.a. research.
What I found out was shocking.
Having to look up new things doesn’t ruin all the fun at all. It actually leads to interesting new ideas.
With logistics, I learned all sorts of fun words like “nesting equations” that I could use.
Also, once I learned about logistics, I could modify it better for my secret agent purposes. My hero, Cole, uses logistics to bust criminal organizations. Once I did the boring research, I could change it around for my purposes, and I felt the stuff based on actual knowledge was way better than anything I could make up. So funny! Here, an example of a passage describing what Cole does – I could never have made this up without some basic knowledge of linguistics:
Cole worked in equations—deductive logistical equations, to be precise.
Because everything in Borgola’s twisted world could be boiled down to equations of commodity, movement, and protection—torqued with variables and coefficients to account for the way law enforcement presence warped supply routes, the way paranoia among thieves sometimes made straight lines into curves.
Yeah, Cole Hawkins was a nerd. With the arcane equations he’d developed, he could deduce entire shadow organizations from seemingly random details, like a deadly Sudoku. It was through equations that the unseen could be perceived.
It was through equations that he would bring Borgola to his knees.
Is this something every other writer knows, and I just only now figured out? That research is helpful in writing fiction and not just a pesky impediment?
My heroine is a safecracker, and research gave me all kinds of cool things for her, too. Big things! Some of my favorite things about her came from research. Who knew!
And then there was the red-dot thingy.
In a future book in this series, I have this assassin after my hero. In an early draft, the hero, who has a giant guilt complex, was forever imagining a red dot thingy on his chest or forehead, and looking to see if one was there.
Then I was like, wait, that red dot must have a name, right? Guys in law enforcement don’t call it “the red dot thingy.” I went on twitter to ask, and I learned that it is sometimes called the red dot, but that an assassin typically wouldn’t use one, because it would give him away, and it doesn’t work great in certain lighting conditions or from a distance. My tweet pal, Adrienne, and her husband, who was a sharpshooter in the military, were especially helpful filling in all these details. Apparently a sharpshooter often uses a rifle with telescopic sights – not generally a red dot. I had everything wrong!!
At first I was bummed because, while it made sense for an assassin to not use a red dot, I had all this juicy psychological stuff built around the idea of the red dot. But the more I pondered, the better I liked no red dot. I changed it to my hero imagining the sights on him, imagining himself in the crosshairs, imagining it producing a sensation. Just kind of obsessing about it.
The problem with the red dot, psychologically, was that you can look on your chest and see if it’s there or not, or you friend can tell you. The telescopic sights were way better because you don’t know they’re there, so they are better as a point of obsession. (Thanks, @DrenzPen!! You and your man totally rock!) Anyway, the whole assassin bit will be the third book (I think).
Now I don’t feel sorry for other writers who have to research. How did I not know all this? Maybe other writers are reading this right now and thinking, Carolyn Crane…you are so pathetic. So late to the party. Oh well, better late than never!!
Hey, thanks so much to the awesome Under the Covers crew for having me over today!
SHE’S AN EX-SAFECRACKER FORCED INTO ONE LAST HEIST
Angel Ramirez left the safecracking game five years ago, and she’s worked hard to make amends and build an honest life. But when a beloved aunt is kidnapped, she must reunite with her girl gang to acquire the unique ransom: Walter Borgola’s prized diamonds. It’s a simple job that turns into a nightmare, thanks to a surprisingly clever—and searingly sexy—security guard named Cole Hawkins.
HE’S AN UNDERCOVER AGENT WITH BIG PLANS FOR HIS GORGEOUS THIEF
Cole is one of the Association’s most brilliant agents, under deep cover investigating a ruthless killer. He’s also running out of time: hundreds will die if he doesn’t stop the plan Borgola’s set into motion. Catching Angel is the break he needed–he promises not to turn her in if she poses as his lover and uses her unique talents to unlock the sociopath’s dungeon vaults.
But as pretend passions turn real, Cole regrets drawing Angel into his deadly game…and danger is closer than either of them could ever imagine.
Carolyn Crane is the author of various steamy adventure novels, including the Disillusionists trilogy; she also writes erotica as Annika Martin. She loves Mexican food and cheese plates and staying up late lost in a book, and she is really going to try hard to be a less neglectful gardener this year.
Carolyn is giving away three ebooks of my new romantic suspense release, Against the Dark (epub, kindle or pdf – winner’s choice).
To enter, just comment below and tell us what is your favorite thing about the Romantic Suspense genre!