Jul 3, 2017

Writerly Research

For the last little while I've been plotting a series. Okay, a number of series (I'm easily distracted with other stories!).

So I thought I'd share my process of setting up Book #1 in a series. Generally, I'll have a germ of an idea - it might be a springboard from a scene I've seen on TV, or something that I've seen happen to me, family, friends, or even strangers.

For example:
Shadow Breeds was started with a group of readers filling out a questionnaire about what they wanted to read in a story, and then I incorporated as many items, quirks and character traits suggested as possible, and created a universe out of it that has spawned to date four books, with another two still to come.

My romantic suspense novel, Runaway Lies, was spawned by an incident my sister witnessed (the opening scene), and I played the game of 'What If...' and 'Why on Earth...'

This novel featured a family who are, in their own way, dedicated to upholding the law (except for the black sheep, but that's a completely different story!) That family's series starts with my romantic suspense novel, Heart Breaker.

Then I have to set my series somewhere. City? Small town? An alternate reality? A cruise ship? I will admit to be being a massive fan of the following shows: Underground Cities, The 100, Stargate, etc., and the settings used in these shows inspired the underground facility I used in Vampire Undone (due out late 2017).

Then I have to 'cast' my series. I create an ensemble of characters, make them unique and special in their own way, with their own backstories that contribute to who they are now, and also their own story when it's time to share.

This is possibly the most challenging, and most time-consuming element of my series set up. What do my characters look like? (I'm the first person to forget what colour my hero's eyes are, so having pictures is handy. At least, that's my excuse).

Some of my leading men...

See, I told you it's hard work.

So tell me, is there an interesting setting or hot hunk you'd like to see in a story? Please share in the comments (you never know, you might end up reading it in one of my books!)


  1. Love this post, Shannon. I'm always intrigued by how authors work, where they start, how they pull the elements together.

    I'm a fan of Nordic noir, which I reckon works really well with both suspense/thriller and paranormal elements. The isolation (caused by environment) often means that the investigators are brought in from elsewhere. Thus, something else I love, the classic fish-out-of-water.

  2. Shannon, at the moment when I'm struggling with writer's block for the first time ever I liked reading your blog and maybe picking up some ideas on how to get out of the hole I've found myself in. It's never easy, is it?

  3. Hi Shannon

    Oh I do love your stories and the settings I love outback settings and yes why not a cruise with a gorgeous cruise director.

    It must be hard work looking at all of those photos :)

    Have Fun

  4. Shannon,

    What an interesting process. I admit I'd like to see more Aussie settings in romances. I love it when I know a location in a book!

  5. Ah hero research...its a hard job but someone has to do it, right, Shannon? ;-)

  6. Love that idea of surveying readers, Shannon. Must be very interesting reading the results.

    I love reading stories that are set if fabulous cities like New York, Paris, London, Prague...

  7. I'm looking at those pictures of your leading men and nodding -- yep, research can be a tough job. ;-)

    I've just finished a book set on a vineyard which was full of detail about wine and grapes and things, and I loved that as a setting. Last night I watched a TV show called "So-and-So's (sorry can't remember his name) Homes by the Mediterranean." So now I want a book set in an amazing Venetian palace on a Dalmatian Island. :-)

  8. Love reading about your research, Shannon! I am a great fan of Pinterest for researching settings and characters.
    I enjoy reading a story where the setting is important to the story, I don't really mind where that is.