Friday, February 8, 2013

The Joys of Research. . .Seriously. ~ Guest post with Ryan Hunter

Ryan is taking over my blog for the day! 
Please welcome her! 

Ryan Hunter is the author of inDIVISIBLE, a dystopian that’s being hailed as a modern-day 1984; and Premeditated, a YA suspense. She’s a wife and mother of five. She’s an avid runner, blogger and baker.

Brynn Aberdie had everything: a loving family, security and an electronic implant that monitored every move.

Brynn had everything but freedom.

When her father’s life is taken Brynn vows to find that freedom, but it’s a task that puts her life at stake. She’s tagged as a terrorist and put on an Alliance kill list, forcing her to leave her home and become the rebel they already believe her to be.

Brynn learns a lesson many in One United have already learned – by failing to protect they’re rights, Citizens have forfeited their lives with little hope to ever recover their own identities.

The Joys of Research. . . .Seriously. by Ryan Hunter

While writing my latest novel, inDIVISIBLE, I decided not to read anything political or read any other dystopians so the world of One United would be unique, uninfluenced, but that doesn’t mean I avoided ALL research.

Researching for novels can come in many forms and for inDIVISIBLE I took the outdoors route, as I usually do. As much of the novel follows Brynn and T through the mountains, we went hiking.
Just south of our home is a hike that would blow your mind, and it’s rich with the same vegetation and landscape that I imagined Brynn and T would be exploring. I waited until after my first draft and then we went, collecting samples of leaves, taking pictures of trees, of the river and even a rattlesnake we found napping. After hiking I was able to make the scenes come alive, introducing more sounds, smells and sights than I would otherwise have included in the finished scenes.
I think that’s what so many books are lacking, the use of all the senses, so when I write I try to be descriptive about smells, sights and sounds, like describing the scent of butterscotch filtering from towering pines.

I’ve done similar research for every book I've written, hiking the canyons where scenes take place, driving the streets of the cities or looking up demographics to make sure I've got the people in the area right.
I even attended court for one of my first novels (written under the name Robyn Heirtzler) to make sure I got the procedure right and the emotions of the judge, defendant and attorneys.

It’s important, as an author, to understand the adrenaline involved, the physical strengths or trials a person is really going through, so I was grateful that I was training for my half-marathon while writing inDIVISIBLE, as one of the characters is a runner. And I’m even grateful that I sprained my right hand just before our hike so I could enjoy it with a painful injury.

Researching by reading books on emotions, locations or personality helps, but experiencing it helps make the story feel real to the reader, especially when we can convey it believably. It can also be a lot of fun.
While working as a journalist (and growing up in an adventurous family) I've had opportunities to do many things that have fed into the emotions of my characters. It’s helped me be more real in my writing, things like driving a Jeep off a cliff, road trips, rock climbing, having a gun pointed at my face by a stranger, training with simulation rounds with local police departments, etc.

Whether it’s experiences intentionally sought out for research or things that just happen, they can lend a feeling of reality to writing like nothing else. They can also create some awesome memories!

Yes, I find a lot of joy in research. 


  1. I totally agree with you, ryan, research is important and FUN! Ordering the scenes in my book - now that's scary!

    Have a nice day and enjoy research and writing!

    1. I have to agree. I LOVE doing research! And researching has led to some really fun hobbies. (Archery, sword fighting. . .just to name a few)

  2. Thank you Elana and Konstanz! Sword fighting, Konstanz? Now that's something I've wanted to try for a long time. I'm adding it to my bucket list tonight. :)

    1. You are so welcome! Thank you for putting together this amazing post! Yep, I decided I want to become a weapon specialist (All because of research for writing). :D