Monday, July 11, 2011

Researching Romantic Suspense

Today is my first blog post here at Voices From the Heart. I am very excited to be a part of such a great group. I look forward to exploring the world of writing, reading and life with all of you and expect to have a lot of fun along the way. Look for me on the 11th of every month. Now here goes:

Before writing paranormal romance, I wrote romantic suspense. My first novel with Samhain Publishing, Dark Waters, is a sensual romantic suspense set in Puerto Rico. My hero is an ICE agent.

A what agent? ICE? Does he track down ice cubes for a living? No, but you might need some after you read one of the love scenes. ;)

ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At the time I wrote the story most people hadn’t heard of ICE. Nowadays, you can flip on any TV station and hear about them protecting the border, stopping drug traffickers or rescuing illegal border crossers being smuggled into the U.S. in overcrowded, suffocatingly hot truck trailers.

As happens with many writers, I got an idea in my head and wanted to tell Frankie and Rico's story.

But even when I started to write the story I knew very little about ICE.

Research was the key to creating a credible hero and a story that was plausible.

So I had to do a lot of digging. It took time, energy, a lot of web surfing, making phone calls to ICE agents and calling up family members to track down an actual ICE agent.

I got FBI, ATF, TSA, and NYPD detectives, but no ICE agents. I finally had to call the main office in Washington D.C. I did get one special agent in charge but he could only give me the basics--his superior shut down talks for more details. :(

But that was okay. I was hooked and determined to do my homework.

I went to the ICE website. At that time it had limited information as it was so new.

Then I spoke to an FBI agent who was able to clarify small bits of information about the job and some of the things all agents share in common.

Once, I had all my facts, I was able to plug them in here and there into the story to make it more genuine. Now, I didn't use every fact because my story was a love story not an ICE handbook.

As I begin to ponder the next installment (way overdue) for the second in the ICE Files series, I am back to doing the research. This time I want to delve more into the Puerto Rican culture and the way law enforcement is viewed on the island.

I am lucky enough to have family and friends who either grew up in Puerto Rico or visit every year to help me write a more authentic book. I find firsthand information really adds to the flavor of a story and provides a more personal touch.

Also, I am gathering my information via the Internet and books from the library.

Research takes time but is well worth it and in the long run makes for a better book.

I would really love to know, what was the most interesting fact you learned from doing research? Anything shocking, cool or just plain weird?


Ana Morgan said...

I can't say I discovered just one interesting fact when researching. Research is always interesting--maybe too interesting. It's easy to go for more and more. Incorporating just enough research into a WIP is my challenge.

Gabriella Hewitt said...

I totally agree with you Ana. It's easy to get caught up in the research and realize your writing time is gone. LOL! I don't know how historical writers do it. There must be so many interesting bits and facts that you can get lost in while researching the past.

Thanks for stopping by!(:

Dawn Marie Hamilron said...

Hi, Gabriella. Welcome to Voices. I love to do research. When I got the idea for my ms. Sea Panther about a vampire who shapeshifts into a Florida panther, I thought the animals were black. So I had a sexy dark haired man in my mind. Then I learned Florida panthers are tawny with a reddish tinge on their fur. I had to re-image my hero. :)

Gabriella Hewitt said...

HI Dawn,

How did that change your hero?

In my new Shadow Warrior series, the second story in the series has a hero who shifts into a black jaguar. The big cats are fascinating to research. I believe the black color is much rarer.

Thanks for commenting and I appreciate the warm welcome. I look forward to blogging here once a month.

Debbie Herbert said...

Dark Waters is a great book and I enjoyed the tropical setting and gothic aspects.

I'm getting ready to write my first suspense so I haven't needed anthing specific to research. I've written a couple of paranormal books that opened up a whole new world of ideas for me and I'm sure suspense will also.

Debbie Herbert

Gabriella Hewitt said...

Thanks Debbie for stopping by. Romantic suspense is a lot of fun to write. So is paranormal. I love doing them both.

Jill James said...

Gabriella, I love research. Some day I will write a historical just so I can do research. LOL

Mona Risk said...

Gabriella, welcome to Voices. What a great post. I learned a lot about Egyptian, Greek and Indian Mythology while doing reserach for Osiris' Missing Part.

Gabriella Hewitt said...

Jill--I think it would be a lot of fun to research a historical. But, I probably would never get the book written! LOL!

Mona--thanks so much for the welcome. I am so excited to be part of such a warm group. My next release deals with Aztec mythology, so I hear you on learning a lot. ( :

morgan said...

If I got paid to research I would do it.:) I am working on the Civil War novel and have found that the two sides call the same battle by different names. I also found out the name Bubba--so popular in South Carolina comes from the German word , which means boy.:)

I have a TSA agent in the family too.:)

Great Blog.

Josie said...

First, welcome to the FTH blog. This group is fantastic and so supportive.

I'd never heard of ICE before, but the entire premise sounds so interesting.