Probably because both Emery and I come from academic backgrounds, all of our stories involve some kind of research. It may be simple Wiki searches for basic information, but we tour locations on Google maps and dig around in State Department travel warnings and medical databases and all sorts. We never know where a plot idea is going to take us, and while you should write what you know, you can’t know everything. Which is where the fun comes in.
Blood on the Mountain was a great example of this. We went into it knowing we wanted to have some sort of a bodyguard relationship to parallel Keith and Tanner in Under a Rock for putting them together into an anthology. So, enter Gabe and Nathan. Now, why does Nathan need protecting? Okay, um….
At this point my blog reader spit out a great article on using shipping containers to create affordable housing, and that was our hook. But where? Afghanistan? Africa? Where? Someplace exotic, but something we could visualize. Someplace in need. I don’t even remember at this point how we hit on Rio. Probably in relation to the Olympics. But when I started reading about Rio and the favelas and the drug wars there, it turned out to be just the perfect place to set this story. Everything we document in the story is accurate. The favelas are the slums of Rio, outcast and ignored until the drug violence becomes too great or too much of a detriment to the tourist areas. They back up literally to the back of the hotel strips along the beaches, so close to all that wealth while living in these hovels with no running water, no security and no hope of change. City planners have tried again and again to close the favelas, but are never able to. The people move to other fringe places, and usually are able to move back a few months later when nothing is actually done. A plan like Nathan’s could radically change life for people in these areas. It’s too bad it’s only in a story.
But that’s one of the joys of writing. Yes, write what you know. But combine it with things that you don’t know, give yourself a chance to learn something new.
I now have to go back to researching Gondwanaland geologic ages and die-outs for fossil deposits in Australia. I get all the fun jobs…