Monday, 2 April 2012

MONDAY MAGIC - Shannon Curtis

When I Grow Up…. By Shannon Curtis

One thing I love about writing is the research involved. As an author, I get to contact people and ask them questions about how something works – or how they work!

 My first experience with this was a friendly discussion with my sister-in-law (who is a police officer with NSW Police) about how police would respond to a death in a hospital. This was pretty interesting, and I learned how cops interact with hospitals and the coroner on cases such as this.  But that then led to me contacting the Coroner’s Court and speaking with staff at the Dept of Forensic Medicine – I wanted to know what they would find if my hypothetic al murder victim turned up, how long testing takes (hint: not as quick as CSI would have you believe!) what would be red flags, how things could be disguised, etc.

Let’s just say those folks at the Dept of Forensic Medicine are very smart, very savvy, very helpful … and very twisted with suggestions on ‘how to kill a character’. Awesome folks, with fascinating information.

I’ve had the opportunity to tour a perfume factory, and find out how scents are made, the process a fragrance developer goes through to make a sunny-smelling laundry powder, or a pleasantly-scented cleaning agent… or a sinfully sensual killer fragrance.

For my first novel, Viper’s Kiss , I needed information on how the Seattle Police Department would handle certain situations. I also needed to know information about the outstanding Special Forces, and Bob Mayer  was extremely generous and patient with supplying those details to me.  I also got to research smoke bombs – and this is going to sound so juvenile, but that was a hell of a lot of fun. I also got to interview Elizabeth Saunders, a genuine Information Technology Services Librarian at the University of New South Wales, who gave me a considerable amount of material for my heroine, Maggie Kincaid.

For my second novel, Guarding Jess (due out from Carina Press on May 14), I was very fortunate to contact Ms Jacqueline Whitmore, who was so kind and generous with her time and expertise as I researched etiquette – which is a whole new level of fascination!

I guess, for me, this is what makes writing so much fun for an author. I get to talk to the most fascinating people, about the most interesting things – and they don’t realise how fascinating their lives are to me, or how interested I am in what they do and why.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a federal police detective.  I wanted to be involved with murder mysteries, drug and jewellery heists and secret agent stuff. Then I found out a) you have to be really smart, go to university, etc, b) it’s an idea to be fit, c) you can’t discuss cases with friends or family, and d) it’s really dangerous!


You can find Shannon at:
Writers Ink


So tell us - what did YOU want to be when you grew up? Did it work for you?
And writers - what are the best things about being a writer?

Leave us a comment and join the conversation!


Maggie Nash said...

Thanks for being my guest today Shannon!

I have to say, I really love doing research too! Of course, since I have been known to write on the hotter side of the equation, I get to speak to some amazing people who my real life persona would never in a minute speak to! The toy research is fun too :-)

Sandy Curtis said...

Great post, Shannon. I always wanted to be a writer but life (in the way of having to earn money) got in the way. But eventually I made it :-)
Research is such fun. I needed to find out how much water a condom could hold for my just-finished story, so, with the help of my husband, filled a couple and tied knots in them. Rob then decided he would see if they would survive some rough handling and bounced one on the bench. The knot flew open and 2 litres of water sprayed all over the kitchen! He didn't think it was much fun mopping it all up, but we had a good laugh. Just wish we'd filmed it :-)

Bronwyn said...

I have to admit, I wasn't the smartest tool in the shed. I didn't know being a writer was something I wanted to be until a few years ago (alright quite a few years ago). I wanted to be an opera singer.. And then a teacher. And then a helicopter mechanic. What can I say? I'm flighty =)

Best thing about being a writer? I can stay in my pj's all day and blame the deadline to get out of sports day and school volunteer stuff. Getting to kill people is fun too.

Great post ladies!


Gabriella Hewitt said...

Research can be a lot of fun. My first novel was a romantic suspense novel and it was interesting trying to get details on police procedure. Lately, I have been writing paranormal suspense and have been immersed in aztec myths. That has also been fascinating. I think the toughest part is to not get sidetracked or lost in the research that you forget to write! (:

Liz Flaherty said...

I love research, too. It's such a safe and entertaining way to live vicariously, not to mention productive.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bronywn

Thanks for that - at one point I really, really wanted to be a helicopter pilot. And then I found out a)how expensive a helicopter is, b) how expensive the fuel is, and c) how expensive getting hours up so you can get your licence!
Still love the fantasy, though!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gabriella
I totally agree with the threat of the time-suck factor. Research can be very... seductive!
Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, Sandy! I just learned a condom can hold 2 litres of water! Can't wait to read this book and find out in what context you use that little gem!
Thanks for the comment!

Joan Kilby said...

Hi Shannon, interesting post! I've interviewed some fascinating people in the course of research. The best experience was when I was writing a chef hero and I got to be a 'fly on the wall' in the kitchen of a gourmet restaurant at a winery. After a morning of watching and asking questions, the chef prepared me a three course meal complete with wine, on the house. Awesome!

Joan Kilby said...

Forgot to add, that experience, while wonderful, killed any lingering secret desire I had of becoming a chef myself.

Kaz Delaney said...

Loved this Shannon! Trying to think of an exciting research exercise - or at least one that's not going to put your readers to sleep.

Maybe it was my erotica one. Way, way back when erotica wasn't nearly so respectable. :-) My then agent suggested I write some (I have no idea why - I was a kids' author!!) and as I hadn't ever really read much of it, a friend and I went on a trawl of all the sex shops so I could see what it was all about.

But I was so terrified someone from school would see me! I could see headlines (in my mind) blasted all over the local newspapers: CHILDREN'S AUTHOR: PORN JUNKIE!!

So, my friend dressed me up/disguised me. I literally did the whole wig, dark glasses, scarf thingy. I was actually enjoying myself too, till I got the wig caught (as you do) on a condom stand and pulled everything off!

Of course I ran screaming from the store. Though, I doubt the bored guy reading the paper behind the counter could have cared less...

"Just another Tuesday Night Looney..."

And Sandy Curtis? I LOVE that story! But 2 litres of liquid??? Are you sure they weren't made for elephants??? Two litres. My mind is still reeling.

Thanks ladies - what a fun post!

Anonymous said...

Hey Joan!
What a great idea! I think I'll write in a chef and see if any 3-course gourmet meals are in the offing! Sounds fantastic.
Yes, I have a friend who is a chef - and I think it's an incredibly demanding career, don't think I could stand the heat in the kitchen...
Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kaz!
I'm crying from laughing so hard. Can't wait to see how you'd research the actual toys!... Um, actually, I probably shouldn't see it!
Oh, I've seen some fantastic reviews for your novel, Dead, Actually - awesome, well done!
Thanks for your comment, I loved the laugh!

Maggie Nash said...

Thanks everyone for dropping by and commenting on Shannon's post!

Waves madly at Gabriella!

Sandy - I'll have to use that one!

Joan, gotta love chefs and their egos. He couldn't let you go without a fees, just in case you include his restaurant in a book!

Kez - you always crack me up! Hey, I went to Sexpo three times for research. Yes, it WAS research!

Maggie Nash said...

Bron - I wish I could sit in my jammies all day. I dream about that! Bl**dy day job!

Maggie Nash said...

Liz - lovely to have you visit! I love your books. Big fan girl moment here!