Saturday 31 March 2018

Have you fallen down the research rabbit hole? You're not alone! .@susan_alia .@rararesources #gayfiction #scifi #wip

Susan-Alia Terry
talking about her research technique

I’m a “pantser” by nature, as in I write without an outline “by the seat of my pants”. As such, my research needs aren’t always known up front. What I usually end up doing is writing until the need for research arises. It was only after I began writing Coming Darkness, did I begin to research angels and demons. I was going a very traditional way with them until I realized that my story wasn’t traditional. The universe I was creating was unique and the supernatural beings needed to reflect that. As such, the essence and mission of the angels is familiar and based in lore, but in my world demons don’t exist. In this case, the research gave me a foundation and license to use what I wanted, to throw away what I wanted, and to create what I wanted.

The greatest length I’ve gone to so far for research, is taking field trips to capture scenes in Charleston. For instance, there is a scene where Lucifer and Michael walk from Lucifer’s house to a park. I located his house along Murray Boulevard, which leads to White Point Gardens. Early one morning I drove there and explored the neighbourhood. I walked the route to the park, and took some pictures, which I later used to refer back to the area. While I had been to the park before, the field trip made it easier to place myself in the scene. Finding the model for Lucifer’s house was pure serendipity. I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but when I saw it, everything clicked. I discovered Lucifer’s favourite tree the same way. He didn’t have a favourite until I saw that tree. I feel that the tree is an authentic touch I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t made that trip.

I love learning new things and for me it’s easy to fall down the research rabbit hole. Once I’ve gathered all this interesting (to me) information, I want to tell somebody! I’ve not gone so far with it as to mute the plotline, but I suspect it’s possible.  What I have done is throw in more information than is necessary, which then derails the flow of a scene. From the example above, when I first wrote about Lucifer’s house, I included too much information. It was cool and interesting, and I loved going deep with it, but the extraneous detail slowed the movement of the scene, and derailed the flow toward the important bits. It was hard to cut it, but it needed to be done.

When it comes to researching completely made up stuff, like aliens, I believe it’s all about the jumping off points. There are a bunch of avenues:

·       Sociological studies could give background on different cultures, which could provide a jumping off point for the character and culture of an alien species.

·       Research on earth habitats and animal adaptations to their environments could provide jumping off points for alien worlds and the types of species that live there.

·       Biological research could provide jumping off points for mammalian, reptilian, insectoid or aquatic life forms.

·       Research on what we know about different planets, and educated speculation about species that could survive there, could provide jumping off points for hard science, real world takes on alien species.

·       Researching decades of movie aliens could provide valuable information on how to create an alien species, and why certain choices were made.

Research is a wonderful tool. Not only does it help in creating the worlds we write about, but we also learn new stuff in the process. Can it get any better than that? I don’t think so!

Happy reading! 

Coming Darkness

Archangel Lucifer lives a comfortable life of self-imposed exile with his vampire lover, Kai. When the other Archangels come to him with a problem — Heaven is gone and their Father is missing — he refuses to get involved because not only is it not his problem, but it's probably some elaborate ruse they've cooked up to lure him back into the fold.
When he's personally attacked, he finds that he's wrong on both counts. There are other powerful gods at work, gods who believe the current creation is flawed and must be destroyed. | Amazon.UK
Kai is thrown off balance when Lucifer disappears, and his life begins to spiral out of control. In the past, he never cared that he was looked down upon and called Lucifer's pet. But with Lucifer absent, he's left to navigate a world that doesn’t respect him. Since the only true currency is respect, he must gain it the only way his enemies will understand, through blood.
They say it’s never too late to find and pursue your passion. Turns out they’re right. Although Susan-Alia Terry loved to read, she didn’t start writing until she was in her late 40's.
A stint in grad school helped her hone her craft, and now she happily spends her days making up stories and figuring out how best to emotionally (and sometimes physically) torture her characters.

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