Research: Whatever it takes
One of the questions I get asked the most is, “Do you do a lot of research for your novels?”
The answer is an enthusiastic YES. I write historical fiction, women’s fiction, and romantic suspense/thrillers. Part of the fun of writing a book (for me, anyway) is the research. Yes, it’s fiction, so I can just make stuff up, but I enjoy the journey of experiencing new things—and the challenge of finding a way to do it.
For my latest book Presidential Advantage, I wanted to get an inside look at the White House. Not the easiest place in the world to just drop by for a visit, right? But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Luckily, I used to be a newspaper reporter, so I applied for press credentials to attend the Medal of Freedom ceremony in the East Room. That event was followed by an official COVID-19 press conference with the Vice President in attendance, so of course, I stayed around for that.
I have to admit, it was a little intimidating standing shoulder to shoulder with the news anchors you see every day on television. Presidential Advantage is about a First Lady who is thrust into the world of politics (and the Secret Service agent who rescues her), so I wanted to be able to provide historical background on the White House from her point of view.
The best part of the day was when I got to go behind the blue sliding door you sometimes catch a glimpse of when the president (or some other high-ranking official) enters the James S. Brady Briefing Room. (I’m not going to go into any detail on what’s there…Top Secret).
If you think getting into the White House is taking a big step for research, it wasn’t my biggest test of faith. For my Phantom Force Tactical Series, I wanted to be able to write authentically about shooting a military-grade weapon out of a helicopter.
So, I did.
The opportunity came when I attended A Girl and A Gun conference in Texas. I didn’t do too bad at hitting targets while hanging out of a fast-moving, dipping, diving helicopter either. It was a blast!
I’m sure some authors are more comfortable (and creative) just making things up, but I need to see, feel, hear, taste, and touch things to make them real for the reader.
I’ve also flown a few hundred feet off the ground in a Vietnam-era Huey and slept in an open field with a few thousand Civil War reenactors surrounding me, all in the name of research.
The fact that I get to experience these things in order to provide hours of entertainment and escape for my readers is why I think being an author is the greatest job in the world!
An unsuspecting First Lady must rely on a Secret Service agent to discover who can be trusted—and who will do anything to keep control.
WHEN A SHY, country girl from Virginia marries a prominent Georgetown attorney, her life is bound to change. But when that attorney is catapulted to the office of President of the United States, she is thrust into the position of First Lady—and uncovers a world of secrets and betrayals that alters everything she once knew.
After recovering from her initial missteps and negotiating the obstacles of her new public life, Elizabeth Collins begins to understand the nature of politics. But as another election approaches, turmoil in the White House intensifies. Leaks. Lies. Deceit. Deception. People the First Lady thought were friends desert her and the true character of people she thought she knew is revealed.
When the stakes become life and death, the First Lady uncovers the ultimate betrayal and is forced to come to terms with her own role in the political process. Only with the help of Secret Service Agent Clint Brody can she hope to find her way out of danger—and uncover the identity of the real traitor in the White House.
PRESIDENTIAL ADVANTAGE BUY LINKS:
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/presidential-advantage-jessica-james/1137023047?ean=2940164077020
Draft 2 Digital https://books2read.com/u/3LDodN