Monday, March 24, 2008


A gem (not germ) of a story idea hits you, but then you remember a well-known piece of advice… write what you know. If we only wrote what we knew our choices for plots would be extremely limited. What to do! What I do is research the net, newspaper stories, and badger those who are expertise in the field I want to probe.

I love the mystery of the isolated coves and inlets of the Eastern Shore Region of Nova Scotia. Drug smuggling by sea is prevalent there but what did I know about it? Zilch!

Google is fine for finding general information, yet it alone can’t give that personal touch that will reflect in the story. For Means To An End, I contacted an RCMP officer and got his perspective from their point of view, then decided to go into chatrooms to see if I could locate prison guards who could tell me something about the seedier side of life. I needed this awareness since the characters were dealing with criminal elements.

Not to end my research there, I needed a heroine who could personify a character against the justice system to provide immediate conflict with the RCMP officer striving to bring down the drug trade. To develop her I contacted another writer who worked in the Justice department here. To boost the setting’s sensuality, I persuaded my hubby to take me to stay in a chalet at the resort where the H&H relationship developed. We went back three times, lol.

Much of the information I received I could also use in Undercover Trouble and the book practically wrote itself. Something About That Lady was drawn from what I did know having lived in Alberta and passing a huge ranch on each trip to Banff.

A Spirited Liaison, which is an April release from Champagne Books, required more than a rich imagination and a Kenny-Rogers type privateer who plays such an integral part in the development of the H&H relationship. I researched museums and diaries of real privateers and, to go into it deeper, I enjoyed a cruise on the Bluenose11 to learn what it would feel like for my characters to hear the sails billow and feel the sea breezes from the vantage point of the ship modeled on schooners of long ago.

So don’t be put off by writing on what you don’t know… learn what you need from the experts. Happy writing! Carol McPhee: