Why research fiction?

Writing Advice from Petie McCartypetie-mccarty

The question in the title is one I hear all too frequently when talking to readers, and I am amazed by the number of readers who are oblivious to the fact that authors are always required to do a certain amount of research when writing their stories.

I’ve had readers claim, “But it’s fiction! Why would you do research? Can’t you just make the stuff up?

The answer is No. Not even for the wildest science fiction, where a whole new world has been created, can the author afford to scotch the research. Questions would still arise and would still require answers — like How did this world come into existence? And the answers must be plausible. If your story is not believable, you will lose the reader before you get he or she hooked – a fate worse than death for an author.

There will be few stories an author can write strictly from their personal experience. I spent two years of my career surveying Florida waters by airboat, and I still wasn’t close to being able to create a story about an airboat safari for my debut novel Everglades. I spent several months researching every aspect of the famed River of Grass and the adjacent Big Cypress National Preserve before I crafted the first scene. Then I had to research the sugar plantation industry to create a believable scenario for the conflict.

Even an author writing about a small fictional town in the mid-west will have some anchor businesses in the town to hold the populace and thereby the story together. And unless the author has owned a business similar to one in the story and is familiar with the nuances of the business operation, then research will come into play. The author simply cannot avoid research.

catchofthedaycoverart72dpi__73343.1359481854.1280.1280Sometimes, we luck out and find an expert to plug all of our research gaps. I certainly did for my second novel Catch of the Day. My day-job lake-survey partner is also a professional fisherman – they prefer to be called anglers – with the national Bassmaster Southern Opens series. He vetted my manuscript upon completion to be sure I hadn’t made any fishing faux pas.

Now the Catch of the Day doesn’t actually have a large amount of fishing tournament information and description in it, but what is there had to be accurate. As with most fiction, the characters and their interaction and dialog provide most of the story, but what little narrative is provided for color must be realistic. The reader will know.

Fiction research is always worth it in the end, even if you spend months reading up on a subject, for there is no greater feeling for an author than to have a reader post a review or send an email that says, “You made me feel like I was right there in the story…”

Download and read The Catch of the day or Petie’s latest novel, No Going Back, and check out all her books at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Angels Protect in New Release

Man holding a woman out of the stream, with a mill in the background. They are kissing. Title is No Going Back. Author Petie McCarty. Presented by Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc.Hi Lynette! Thank you so much for allowing me to spend time with your readers today! I’m so excited about my April release, No Going Back.

Glad to have you here, Petie. I can’t wait to learn more about this book and your new series! Angels are a fascinating topic. Tell us more.

This release is the first of what I call my Rescue Angel romances — wild and fun love stories with a secret angel hidden in the plot, and the reader doesn’t find out the angel’s identity until the finale. If I’ve done my job right, I’ll fool my readers every time. My second Rescue Angel romance — appropriately named Angel to the Rescue — is due out in December.

I enjoy it when an author keeps me guessing. I admit I enjoy figuring out or sometimes being surprised. Set the scene for us?

In No Going Back, Kellen Brand’s inheritance turns out to be a whopper — one dilapidated farm in West Virginia and one guardian angel. Since no sane woman would choose to live in Riverside, Kellen vows to sell her farm and quick. Her handsome neighbor Luke Kenyon must block the farm sale or risk exposure of his family’s secrets.

Kellen has located one potential buyer, but she faces a town full of objectors. Someone is trying to frighten her off, and Luke is forced to step in and rescue her more than once. Unfortunately, Kellen has a penchant for finding trouble. She stumbles onto a clandestine hazardous-waste-dumping operation next to her farm, and she prays Luke has one more rescue up his sleeve. It’s her only hope of staying alive.

Unless her mother really did leave her a guardian angel…

* * * * *

 Here is a little excerpt from No Going Back:

Vera tells me she told you about the haunted cemetery,” Gerald McRae called to Kellen from the checkout counter.

The bell on the store’s front door jingled again.

“She did,” Kellen called back, concentrating on her candle selection.

“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you,” said a familiar voice behind her.

If it was possible for a voice to leer, this one did. Her spine twitched, and she slowly turned around. “I don’t need any protection, Sheriff.”

Reilly eased in much too close for her liking and cornered her between the last two rows of shelves. “You never know what to expect up here in West Virginia, right?” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

His rat eyes glittered like two black aggies, and she suddenly felt a glimmer of panic. The evil eyes of the mean boy who threw dirt clods had changed to the leering eyes of a much larger and quite fearsome man. The mean boy was now Sheriff. If he threw dirt clods, who would she call?

He edged closer.

She stepped back and bumped into the last row of shelves. She felt just like the jackrabbit her dog once cornered in the barn.

“I can look out for you while you’re here, Kellen. Special like.”

The way he said her name sent shivers down her spine. She could feel the lower shelf jabbing into the back of her calves.

He took one more step.

She could smell his sour breath.

“Real special.”

She could hear Gerald talking to a customer. No help coming there.

Reilly lifted his hand toward her face. She swallowed hard and steeled herself to jerk back or swat the hand away.

The fleshy hand eased closer.

A fist came out of nowhere and snagged the sheriff’s wrist. “She doesn’t need any protection,” a deep voice growled. “She has plenty.”

Luke Kenyon had an iron grip on Reilly’s wrist, his knuckles white with the effort. Reilly tried to glare him into submission, but the steel-like glint in Kenyon’s eyes forced the sheriff to blink. Kenyon tossed off the wrist, but stood his ground. Reilly yanked his hand back to his side, and for a brief instant, Kellen forgot how maddening Kenyon was. She wanted to grab him and kiss him for saving her from the foul-breathed sheriff.

“Watch yourself, Kenyon,” Reilly snarled. “I run this county.”

Luke matched his glare. “Not all of it, you don’t.”

Kellen tried to catch her breath. She blinked, and the Sheriff was gone. Luke stood so close she could feel the heat radiating from his body, and that certainly didn’t help her remember to breathe.

“Are you all right?”

Had she seen worry in his eyes? For her? Oh good heavens — she was still staring! Now he was asking her something. What was it? Oh yeah — was she all right?

She nodded.

Words were too much at the moment. Too many emotions. First, panic at Reilly accosting her again after all these years and then finding out she actually had a knight in shining armor. She did, didn’t she? Luke’s focused gaze sent her heart fluttering and from more than fear. She couldn’t seem to get any air in her lungs.

“Do with your property as you please,” his voice rumbled.

She blinked again, and he was gone. They were both gone, the Sheriff out the front door and Luke to who knew where.

“Everything all right, Kellen?” Gerald called from the checkout counter.

Her fists had a death grip on her basket. Everything about this town made her feel like a child again. Except she didn’t want to go back to her childhood.

Download this exciting new book right now from Desert Breeze Publishing or one-click from her Amazon  author page.