Guest Post: "How do you research?" by Kylie Brant + Giveaway

Filed in Giveaways , Guest Post , Kylie Brant , The Geeky Lover Posted on August 2, 2011 @ 10:15 am 18 comments

Today we have the wonderful Kylie Brant here to tell us about some of her methods when researching material for her books. Kylie is the author of the fantastic Mindhunters series plus numerous romance titles such as Terms of Engagement, Terms of Attraction and Terms of Surrender. Today is also the release date of her newest novel, Deadly Sins. Congrats to Kylie and let’s celebrate all we can!

Take it away Kylie! 

Think the worst writing advice I’ve ever heard is that old adage “write what you know”. What I know is not all that interesting. Oh sure, I’ve got some good material based on experience that might make an entertaining short story. If someone wants to know how to make dinner for seven with only a jar of salsa, three chicken breasts and a box of Cheerios, I’m your gal. Or for those wondering what happens when the kids decide to put the dog in the dryer (on air fluff, thank God) so I wouldn’t figure out they’d let her outside after I’d told them not to…again, I know that sort of thing.

It’s just not the kind of experience that lends itself to writing dark romantic thrillers.

How can I write what I know when my business is murder? Writing about it that is. It’s an area where one usually isn’t encouraged to go out and get some first hand experience!

Luckily, the Internet makes research easy. Before I start each book I usually buy two or three non-fiction titles online (if I don’t have subject appropriate ones in my own research library). I read these as I’m writing. I search the Internet for valid information. And very early in each book I start reaching out to experts in the area.

My books tend to have a law enforcement / forensics slant. Most police departments and FBI field offices have Public Affairs numbers staffed with veteran officers. That always provides me a good place to start. I approach them with a list of questions and invariably they refer me on to another detective who has specific experience in the subject matter I’m interested in. One of my releases took place in Savannah. I was referred to a very helpful sergeant detective who not only answered my police procedural questions, but described the very distinctive police headquarters building in a way that helped make my story more descriptive. I’ve also received tremendous help from lab managers in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s regional forensics lab.

Yet another featured a forensic anthropologist heroine. I’m not quite sure what made me think it was a good idea to write about cleaning skeletal remains, extracting DNA from bone and the feeding habits of dermestid beetles. But searching online I discovered several forensic organizations and some have searchable members lists. I made several contacts, a couple of whom helped quite a bit over the course of a book.

Expert contacts lend credibility to the story and give me information specific to the plot lines that I often can’t find in books. I know I’m not going to get everything right, but I certainly strive to!

I don’t often travel to the place I set the book first, but I did for Waking the Dead. I have a sister in Oregon who’s very outdoorsy and she and her husband drove me to McKenzie Bridge, where we hiked the Willamette Forest and crawled through caves. She also introduced me to a friend of hers who told me about the perfect cave for my story J. When I was walking through the forest the entire final scene of the book just unfolded in my mind. It was a wonderful thing!

For my current release, DEADLY SINS a visit to the setting wasn’t necessary. I’ve been to DC countless times and I have two brothers in the area. I sent constant questions to one of them asking questions about parts of town, routes and distances that saved me loads of time. I so love it when one of my family members can be of use to me!

Other experts I tapped for DEADLY SINS were a former Supreme Court clerk, an FBI agent in the DC field office, an expert on phone spyware…and a priest 🙂 Never let it be said that my interests aren’t far-reaching!

Over the years I’ve talked to FBI agents, ex-CIA agents, SWAT officers, police detectives, forensic lab technicians, forensic anthropologists, forensic linguists, an assistant director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. . .the list grows with every story. I’m consistently amazed at how generous people can be with their time. And given some of their fascinating occupations, I’m always left wondering what I was doing on Career Day at school!

If you’ll excuse me now, I need to contact someone about a severed thumb…for research, of course!

About the Author:

Kylie Brant has penned over thirty award-winning romantic suspense novels for Berkley Sensation and Silhouette. She’s a three-time Rita nominee, has been nominated for five Romantic Times awards, and is a RT Career Achievement award winner. In 2004 and 2009 she was awarded the overall Daphne du Maurier award for best romantic suspense novel. Her book UNDERCOVER BRIDE is on Romantic Times magazine’s All-Time Favorites list.

Where to find Kylie: website, blog, twitter, facebook

About the Book:

Risa Chandler’s prescient dreams of death and murder haunted her nights. They also proved invaluable for Adam Raiker’s brilliant team of forensic criminologists, the Mindhunters—until a tragic end to one case shattered Risa’s confidence, and drove her into seclusion. But for Risa, there’s no hiding from death—or from her dreams.

Though skeptical, Philadelphia homicide detective Nate McGuire enlists Risa’s help in finding a serial killer who has claimed three victims. Reluctantly, she agrees. Because she’s been dreaming again—rituals by fire, charred horrors, tortured screams. But Risa’s feeling something else: the heat of a stranger who’s watching her just as closely, a madman with dreams of his own—to make Risa his ultimate fiery sacrifice.



We have one copy of Deadly Sins to giveaway.
All you have to do is answer the following question:

What’s the weirdest or funniest thing you ever researched? 

or ask Kylie a question! 
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you
(email in blogger profile or twitter name-
no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open to everyone The Book Depository ships to. 

Giveaway ends on Saturday, August 13th and we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!

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Join the Discussion
  • Joni S. August 2, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I'd say one of my strangest research topics was "fleas".

    Love the give away

    jjscalf at gmail dot com

  • Birgit August 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Good question! I've researched my fair share of different things for writing, but the weirdest or funniest? Let's see … I'm very particular with details, so when I wanted to match a character taking a shower and a movie on TV in the other room I had to do my homework to fit the shower in between two certain scenes on the screen. First I had to find the perfect movie for this and then I had to search for the scenes that fit. Don't know if this qualifies as weird, maybe it's just that I'm the weird one 😉 !

    danaan at gmx dot at

  • donnas August 2, 2011 at 10:50 am

    There is a internet game called Funny Farm. If you have ever looked at it, you can only imagine the type of things I have read up on to find answers.

    Love the series. Congrats on the release! Looking forward to reading the new one.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  • KylieBrant August 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Joni, fleas. Hmm. I'm thinking of all sorts of plot reasons for that research!

    Birgit, I once had a character saying, "…well Conan was on so I know it had to be xxx time." And a copy editor flagged it telling me that's not what time he was on. She was apparently unaware of time zone differences!

    Donna, You'll have to tell me what you think of it

  • Diane August 2, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    School project when I was very young: salamander; let me tell you it wasn't my first choice.

  • Karen August 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Congratulations on the release of Deadly Sins! Do you still celebrate new releases? What special thing do you do?

    Sorry, couldn't think of anything I've researched!!

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  • mbreakfield August 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I've researched causes of gas as in belching or flatulence.

  • marybelle August 3, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I work in Early Childhood: so weird and funny are a daily occurrence. If I don't know the answer to a question, the children & I research on the Internet. The latest query was: what makes the holes in shells? Did you know they are made by predators trying to eat the creature inside??? Very cool!!

  • Kaetrin August 3, 2011 at 4:49 am

    I'm not sure this counts, but I was reading a book a while back and I was concerned about the height difference between the hero and heroine – I was left with the impression that the hero had a GIANT HEAD so I had to draw a to scale diagram to see if I was right and then I MEASURED MY OWN HEAD to check the proportions – sadly I was wrong – it was going to be a funny blog post with a hand drawn (aka badly drawn!) cartoon/diagram but…

    hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

  • Maureen August 3, 2011 at 4:51 am

    It's great that Kylie has a new book out because she is a favorite of mine. I'm not surprised that she does so much research because her books do feel real to me. With the internet we are always researching strange stuff. The most recent was making insect repellent from catnip.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  • Tore August 3, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I can't really think of any weird research I have done. Other than what we had to do in school. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  • LSUReader August 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

    When I was in college, I researched Louisiana's "Blue Laws" for a newspaper article. My home state had some real doozies on the books!

    Thanks for the post. I'm looking forward to reading Kylie's newest. (Email in profile.)

  • Karen H in NC August 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I loved reading your blog today and had to laugh when you say you love using family members for information. In the days before computers, my kids would constantly ask me questions about schoolwork projects they were suppose to be researching themselves. They said it was so much easier asking mom than looking it up!

    You are a new-to-me author and your books sound good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Na August 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I love research, whether I do it purposefully or not I always end up learning something new. It's fun reading trivia or facts about pretty much anything. I read books from multiple genres and one of them is historical fiction. When I read I like to get an accurate visual of the scene I'm reading. It could be anything from a Medieval kitchen, to a Regency garden to a World War I fighter jet. It just so happens I was once researched historical underwear, girdles and the like. It was both funny and fascinating.


  • janhvi August 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    thanks for the giveaway and for making it international!:)
    i can't think of anything weird i've researched,usually i just ask someone who knows more than me:)

    GFC-Janhvi Jagtap

    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  • Morticia Knight August 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    The most recent has been vintage Victorian erotica images. I was trying to find something to fit a blog post! It has ranged from that to the guy responsible for naming the city of Portland Oregon for an article, and everything in between.
    Love your observation Kylie regarding "writing what you know" So true!!!

  • IdentitySeeker August 13, 2011 at 5:00 am

    The latest weird thing I researched was the origin of the QWERTY keyboard and I felt stupid for not having noticed how it got the name "QWERTY". The second weird, and embarrassing, thing I researched was the meaning of the word "felch" after hearing someone mention it and then blush on being overheard. *blush*

    Thanks for the giveaway:)


  • Cherry August 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

    The weirdest thing I've researched was for a school assignment years and years ago about people's perception of what an engineer is… turns out nobody actually agrees with the official view!! X)

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-darkward [at] yahoo [dot] com

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