Research Geek

- by kyliebrant

Waking the Dead Yep, that title describes me. I love research. I can get lost in it. If reality hadn’t had a nasty way of interfering, I probably could have been a lifelong student. Alas, the    children required feeding. My husband expected a wife that dropped in occasionally. That lifelong college career was not to be.

Maybe that’s why I choose subject matter in my dark romantic thrillers that I have absolutely no expertise in. I find the research endlessly fascinating. I’m chock full of  random bits of knowledge that serve as little more than inappropriate dinner conversation (defleshing bones) or make for eye-widening introductions (Meeting husband’s new boss for the the first time, dh jerks his thumb at me and says, “She knows a half dozen ways to kill someone silently.”) You just never know when this stuff is going to come in handy.

My books tend to have a forensics / police procedural slant. I tell myself that the characters have different forensic specialties to prevent me from becoming bored. But I suspect that sub-consciously I’m planning subjects that I’d like to learn more about.

I don’t often have the opportunity to travel to the location of my story’s setting, but I did for Waking the Dead. My sister had once lived in a picturesque little Oregon mountain town called McKenzie Bridge. I always thought it sounded like a wonderful place to set a book. So I flew out to stay with my her for a few days, and we hiked the Willamette Forest and crawled through caves. I met someone who described the perfect cave to dump seven sets of skeletal remains. He didn’t need to know that during the course of our conversation I’d already mentally cast him as my villain :) complete with the character’s personality.  That was magic.

A magic that didn’t extend to the more technical aspects of the story. Turns out I know very little about the care and feeding of dermestid beetles, defleshing skeletal remains, testing bones for latent fingerprints or extracting DNA from bones. But I was able to find molecular scientists and forensic anthropologists to help along the way.  Research books only go so far.  It takes experts in the field to answer those questions specific to my plots.  I find their information and careers endlessly fascinating.

And always, after speaking with them, I’m left wondering, where *I* was on career day.

2 comments

  1. Some time back, I showed my mom a new book on poisons I’d acquired. She glanced at it and replied, “You’d better pray my death is obviously natural, or you are so in trouble.”

    Telling someone five different ways you can murder a person with a fork or spoon also does a great job at deflating pompous antigun types, as well.

    Yeah, research!

  2. LOL, Marilyn. My husband says the same thing. He tells everyone if anything happens to him, they should check the books in my research library!