Author LaRee Bryant’s busy life is divided between writing, running her administrative services business for not-for-profit organizations, and spoiling her grandchildren. Her latest books are Poppy Fever and Buttercup Blues, the first two books in a new mystery series. Her historical novels, Forever and Forbidden, will be available this winter in print and e-book. Learn more about LaRee and her books at her website.
My Kind of Research
I’m one of those people who absolutely loves the research part of writing. It’s fun as well as informative to go to the actual location of a new book idea. Seeing things in person lets me write accurate descriptive scenes in my books and often leads to interesting details to add to the plot.
One key to creative research is to find local people in the know. I’ve always found them more than willing to share their knowledge and often eager to go out of their way to take me places or introduce me to others who can contribute information.
For instance, while in Jefferson, Texas to do research for Forever, a western-flavored story which deals with a murder mystery set in the time leading up to the oil boom days at the turn of the 20th century, I stumbled on the small side-street sheriff’s office. There, I was lucky enough to meet an elderly gentleman who’d just happened to drop by for a chat with current law officers. I was thrilled to learn he’d actually been the sheriff back in the “old days.” He was eager to talk about the town and its history and I was delighted to listen to experiences he’d had and stories he’d heard as a young boy.
Hearing that the town hadn’t used a gallows way back when, that they’d marched their prisoners out to the railroad trestle, tied a rope around their necks, and then pushed them off, inspired me to create a plot situation that would have my hero facing such a fate.
A paid tour of the nearby cypress lake on a tourist barge provided the visual knowledge for my main characters’ escape from a pursuing posse through moss-draped swampy waters and an interesting tidbit about alligator eyes glowing red in the dark. Being able to create the scenes with vivid true-to-life details made many parts of the story so much easier to write.
In-person research is my preference, but a bang-up job can still be done even if you can’t do the research yourself. Forbidden is set in the Amazon jungle – a real romp of a story with headhunters and hidden treasure and all the dangers of the jungle. I’d never been to the Amazon but I met and made friends with a lady who had lived in a little village on the banks of the river for five years (hunting gold, no less.)
She was kind enough to share every memory and odd detail of her experience with me over many evenings while I furiously scribbled down every word. I’ve had several people who’ve been to the Amazon themselves read the book and tell me, “I can tell you’ve been there. You got all the little details exactly right – the smells, the feel of the jungle floor beneath your feet, the sounds, the colors. You couldn’t have done that if you hadn’t been there yourself.” I just smile and say a mental “thank you” to my friend Carolyne, and bask in the glow of such a great compliment.
Mysteries and murders pop up in Poppy Green's world faster than weeds in a garden. Pretty, perky, and insatiably curious, Dallas's budding interior plant-care specialist digs her way out of a bumper crop of misadventures with a little help from her new neighbor, ex cop J.C. Tucker. When Poppy accidentally winds up in possession of an expensive diamond pendant belonging to her richest and most difficult client, she fears she'll be branded a thief if her client discovers she has the jewel. When the client disappears under strange circumstances, Poppy goes on the prowl for answers. Danger escalates when she stumbles on the woman's body and realizes she needs to solve the mystery before the killer turns his sights on her.